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The NHL is becoming a young man’s game, but that doesn’t mean veterans don’t still have a place.
There are four players over the age of 40 playing in the NHL during the 2022 season. Despite the average retirement age being 28-30, there are countless NHL players still playing the game into their late 30’s.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the five oldest active NHL players in 2022 and the type of impact they are making for their respective teams.
Here are the five oldest active NHL players in 2022:
5. Andy Greene, New York Islanders
New York Islanders defenseman Andy Greene is currently the oldest active defesnean in the. NHL. Born October 30th, 1982, Greene is 39 years of age and playing in his 16th consecutive seasons. The veteran blueliner is a rare example of an undrafted player having a lengthy and successful career in the NHL. Greene signed with the New Jersey Devils as an undrafted free agent in April 4, 2006. The 5’11” blueliner was eventually named captain of the team in 2015 before being traded to the New York Islanders in 2020. Greene is a rock-solid defensive defenseman who isn’t known for his offensive production.
Green has appeared in over 1,000 NHL games, recording 52 goals and 212 assists, to go with a minus-13 rating. The Michigan native has lasted so long in the NHL due to his defensive attributes, toughness and leadership qualities. Although he’s never surpassed 20 points in a season, Greene routinely averaged over 20 minutes of ice time per game. Greene is known for being warrior, having blocked 100-plus shots in 10 different NHL seasons.
Greene’s ice time has dipped down to the 17-minute range over the past few years, as younger Islanders’ defenseman have stepped into larger roles. The 39-year-old has come very close to winning a Stanley Cup, but is still chasing the milestone. Green helped New Jersey reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2012 before reaching the 2020 and 2021 Eastern Conference Final with New York. The Islanders’ Game 7 loss to Tampa Bay in 2021 led to young forward Mat Barzal breaking down emotionally because he wanted the veteran Greene to get his Stanley Cup.
4. Mike Smith, Edmonton Oilers
Born , Mike Smith is the second-oldest goalie currently playing in the NHL. Smith is one of only two goalies who are still tending the twine in their 40’s. Selected by the Dallas Stars in the fifth round (161st overall) of the 2001 NHL Draft, Smith is an NHL journeyman with serious talent. The 40-year-old has tended the goal for five different NHL teams, including most recently the Edmonton Oilers (2019-22). Smith has never been considered a top-tier NHL goalie, but he’s been a dependable starter. In over 600 NHL starts, Smith has posted a 298-263-78 record with a .912 save percentage and 2.70 GAA, to go with 44 shutouts.
Despite being a fairly average NHL goalie based on statistics, Smith has several attributes and accomplishments that make him unique. For starters, he’s one of the tallest NHL goalies at 6′ 5″ and 220 lbs. Smith is also the only active NHL goalie who has scored a goal. Smith netted an empty-net goal versus Detroit when he was playing for the Arizona Coyotes back in 2013. Furthermore to Smith’s uniqueness, he’s also one of two active NHL goalies to participate in a fight. Smith fought Calgary Flames’ netminder Cam Talbot in a Battle of Alberta rivalry game in February 2020. The Oilers’ goalie has a short temper and is never afraid to stick up for his teammates.
Despite his impressive amount of starts in the NHL, Smith’s legacy will ultimately be defined by his upcoming performances in the NHL Playoffs. The Oilers have two of the NHL best players in Connor MCDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who are both in their prime years. Smith has appeared in fewer than 30 playoff games and hasn’t been able to lead a talented Oilers team deep into the playoffs. Edmonton has had a weak blueline during Smith’s tenure with the team, which has led experts to question whether Smith is the type of goalie who can take the Oilers to the promised land.
3. Craig Anderson, Buffalo Sabres
Born May 21st, 1981, Craig Anderson is one of two 40-year-old goalies currently playing in the NHL. Anderson’s spring birthdate makes him officially the oldest active goalie in the NHL. The Calgary Flames originally drafted Anderson with the 73rd overall pick in the 2001 NHL draft. Anderson and the Flames failed to agree on a contract, however, so the goalie re-entered the draft two years later. The Chicago Blackhawks then selected Anderson with the 73rd pick in the 2001 NHL Draft.
Anderson has been traded multiple times in his NHL career, including a trade to Ottawa in 2011. The veteran goalie spent 11 seasons tending the net for the Senators, leading the team to Eastern Conference Final in 2016-17. Anderson never became a Vezina-caliber goalie, but he’s been very reliable starter during his almost 20-year NHL career. In 683 career starts, Anderson has posted a 308-264-69 record with a .912 save percentage and 2.85 GAA, to go with 42 shutouts.
Anderson is currently tending the goal for a Buffalo Sabres team going through a rebuilding phase. The Sabres officially missed the NHL Playoffs for a record 11th straight season in 2021-22. Anderson wasn’t able to bail out a lacklustre blueline in Buffalo, as he recorded a .897 save percentage and 3.12 GAA in 31 starts. Anderson is believed to be somewhat of a place holder in the Sabres’ goalie crease until 23-year-old Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is ready to take over the reigns. Although Luukkonen is expected to be Buffalo’s future franchise goalie, the Sabres are reportedly open to bringing back Anderson in 2022-23.
2. Joe Thornton, Florida Panthers
At 42 years of age, Joe Thornton is the oldest active forward currently playing in the NHL. “Jumbo Joe” was born July 2, 1979 and is two years shy of being the NHL’s oldest player. Thornton was drafted 1st overall by the Boston Bruins in 1997 and has lived up expectations as a first overall draft pick. The 6-foot-4 center spent eight years in Boston before getting traded to San Jose in 2005. Thornton hit his prime in 2005-06 when he won both the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s top scorer and the Hart Trophy as league MVP.
Thornton has had a fantastic NHL career, but the one knock on him has been his lack of Stanley Cups. Jumbo Joe has never won a Stanley Cup, which has prompted him to join powerhouse Toronto and Florida teams in order to chase Lord Stanley. Thornton is currently playing on a Panthers team that has one of the NHL’s most prolific offenses. Florida is averaging over four goals per game and expected to contend for the 2022 Stanley Cup.
Despite his old age, Thornton is finding ways to produce for the Panthers. During the 2021-22 season, Thornton has managed five goals and five assists while averaging 10:58 of ice time. The veteran also plays on Florida’s second power-play unit where he uses his excellent playmaking ability to set up teammates. Thornton has lost significant foot speed and is nowhere near as impactful as he once was, but he’s one of the NHL’s most respected players. If the Panthers win the Stanley Cup in 2022, Thornton will likely be the first player to receive the trophy.
1. Zdeno Chara, New York Islanders
Born March 18th, 1977, New York Islanders’ defenseman Zdeno Chara is the oldest active NHL player in the year 2022. Chara is 45 years of age and two years older than the NHL’s next oldest player. Drafted 56th overall by the Islanders in 1996, Chara is a third-round draft pick who massively exceeded expectations. Chara has had a tremendous NHL career, appearing in almost 1,700 games split between New York, Ottawa, Boston and Washington. The Slovak native has recorded 208 NHL goals and 471 assists, to go with a plus-93 rating.
Chara has one of the most unique builds in NHL history, as he’s listed at 6’9″ and 250lbs. The tall blueliner often towers over opposing players due to his tremendous size. Due to his unique build, Chara never shies away from physicality. The two-way blueliner has officially appeared in a whopping 76 NHL fights, according to HockeyFights.com. Chara has also recorded over 100 hits in all but three of his full seasons in the NHL.
Chara was sensational in his prime, winning the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman in 2009 before capturing the Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011. Unfortunately, Chara’s best days are long behind him and he’s no longer making the type of impact he did in the past. Chara only has 12 points in 2022 compared to the 50-plus points he regularly put up during his prime years. His average ice time has also dipped from over 25 minutes down to 18 minutes as his body can’t keep up with the fact-paced game like it used to.
View our list of the youngest NHL players here.