NHL: Top Ten Players over the Age of 35
The NHL has certainly crested a new wave of young superstars to lead the league since the lockout.
As each year passes, more young players are finding themselves as primary players on NHL teams than are veterans.
Barry Melrose once stated in his podcast on ESPN.com that getting your first and third contracts are easy; it's the second one that's hard to get.
Well, if the NHL keeps having all these great young players coming into the league and pushing veterans out, it's going to even harder to get that third contract than the second.
Anyways, here's a list of the top ten players who still among the elites over the age of 35. Enjoy!
Chris Osgood, 37
I know I'm probably going to get a lot of heat for having him kick off the top 10 list; many or all of you may disagree with me putting him here.
It may even turn you off from reading the rest, but please do. I even have second thoughts about putting him on here and couldn't come to a clear answer on it, so I flipped a coin.
The coin was in favor of Ozzie.
Sure, guys like Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Brian Rolston, Andrew Brunette, Nikolai Khabibulin, or even Dwayne Roloson could make their cases to take his spot.
But Ozzie has won a Cup and taken his team to back-to-back Stanley Cup finals since turning 35. He's three wins shy of winning 400 games, which is second amongst active NHL goaltenders, and he's second in career shutouts.
Although he's lost the starter job to Jimmy Howard, Ozzie has proved time and time again that when it really matters, he comes through.
Maybe he's at the point where for some reason he can only turn it on in the playoffs as he showed last year.
However, other great younger and older goaltenders like Roberto Luongo, Tim Thomas, Henrik Lundqvist, Martin Brodeur, Evgeni Nabokov, and Miikka Kiprusoff haven't won Cups and haven't been to the finals outside of Brodeur, who hasn't since he was 30.
Say what you will about Ozzie and his abysmal performances as of late. He's still capable of bringing it home.
Bill Guerin, 39
Although he was recently passed over for Team USA for the Olympics, he's still a good player given his age. He isn't the player he used to be, for sure, but in 42 games he has 13 goals and 39 points and a +6.
Not bad for a guy who can grow a beard thicker than Crosby's by five o'clock.
Teemu Selanne, 39
Selanne hasn't been the player he was after his first cup win at age 37; nonetheless, he is still one hell of a goal-scorer.
He has 14 goals and 21 points in 27 games so far, and will definitely break the 600-goal mark this year, as he's just seven goals shy.
The Ducks would like him to stay healthy and in the lineup more, but if they can't get their act together, Selanne will be the best rental player on the market for any team searching for that last puzzle piece.
Chris Pronger, 35
Even though he's not the same dominating force he was throughout his career, he's still one of the most feared defensemen in the league.
The Flyers believed Pronger was the missing piece to their Stanley Cup puzzle, but they have taken a step back after dominating the first 20 games of the season.
However, that can't be held over Pronger's head, as he's the club's best and most consistent defenseman.
Brian Rafalski, 36
Although Rafalski is on pace for his worst offensive production since his rookie year in 1999-2000 season, he is still one of the best first pass defensemen in the league and has a pair of speedy legs underneath him.
He had his career year last year at age 35 with 59 points. I'm sure Rafalski will still hit the 40-point mark, instead of his projected 34 points as the Wings' forwards get healthier.
In a month and half, he will be looking to help the USA to their first medal since 2002.
Scott Niedermayer, 36
Nieds is a surefire first-year Hall of Famer; no one can deny that.
He has won at every level of hockey, including four Cups and an Olympic medal. At 36, he's still one of the best defensemen in the league and one of the best skaters.
Although he's at -9 so far this year, he will most likely be the captain of Team Canada at the Olympics, and could be another rental player that could bring a Cup to a club.
Tomas Holmstrom, 36
Holmstrom is like fine wine; the older he gets, the better he seems to be.
At age 36, he's among the league's best in front of the opposing team's net and has made his career based on that.
It doesn't hurt to have Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lindstrom feeding you pucks in front, whether it's a crisp pass or a rebound off a shot. He leads the goal scoring-challenged Wings with 15 goals in 42 games.
Tim Thomas, 35
Although Thomas has struggled at times this season, so has the team in front of him.
Tuukka Rask pushing him hard seems like it will make Thomas even better, given that he's been fighting his whole career for playing time.
It's nothing new to him. Last year he won the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender, and shared the William Jennings award with Manny Fernandez for fewest goals allowed.
Thomas will be looking to help guide his team back to the top of the Eastern Conference and a deep playoff run. He also is one of the goaltenders for Team USA in the Olympics.
Nicklas Lidstrom, 39
Many have stated this year that age has finally caught up to the man who everyone in the NHL believed to not be human.
Since turning 35, Lidstrom has won three Norris Trophies, and was a finalist last year; he was also the first European captain to win a Stanley Cup.
Many believed that the Red Wings' leadership role was an impossible void to fill when Steve Yzerman retired, but Lidstrom has lead his team to a Cup and back to back finals appearance.
Even though he isn't as inhuman as he once was, 29 other teams would still love to have this guy manning their blue line.
Martin Brodeur, 37
Forget about being one of the best, if not the best of players over the age of 35, Brodeur is still one of the best in the league.
He has the 30 and 40 most consecutive win seasons, most wins, most games, and most shutouts. His wins and shutouts will not be broken by any player who is over the age of probably 13 or 14.
Brodeur still has a good two to four years left in his gas tank, and will keep building on his records. He's hoping to add another Cup and maybe more importantly to him, a gold medal for Canada on home soil in the upcoming Olympics.
Brodeur doesn't have players like Scott Stevens, Niedermayer, or Rafalski in front of him anymore, but he still plays extraordinarily well and hasn't shown signs of slowing down.
He's proving that it wasn't just the team in front of him; he really is that great.