Two weeks ago, I broke down each team's best player under the age of 24 and I didn't want to discriminate against the older guys. This week, I'm ranking each team's best skater over the age of 32 (they need to be 32 years old or older to qualify for this list).
Rankings are determined by each player's performance in 2021, but some guys moved up or down a spot or two because of their recent play.
A few teams only had one or two players over 32, so there might be some names on this list that surprise you. Did I anticipate having Jack Johnson or Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in a Power Rankings column this year? Probably not. But here they are!
On the other hand, a team like Boston had more than one quality option, but I limited myself to one player per team. Hard decisions had to be made.
As always, if you have an issue with any of my selections, let me hear about it.
1 - Nicklas Backstrom – Washington Capitals:
The Capitals were able to keep their heads above water while Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov were forced to miss games because of Covid-19 protocols. One of those reasons was Backstrom. The 33-year-old has picked up at least one point in eight of Washington’s nine games. He’s accumulated five goals and an impressive 13 points in nine games. He might just be the most underrated player of his generation.
2 - Joe Pavelski – Dallas Stars:
Pavelski got off to a slow start in his first year with the Stars in 2019-20, but he’s wasted no time accumulating points in 2021. The 36-year-old has already had four and three-point performances this season and he’s up to five goals and five assists in six contests. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Stars control almost 57 percent of the shot attempts at five-on-five when Pavelski is on the ice.
3 - Patrice Bergeron – Boston Bruins:
Picking between Bergeron and Brad Marchand is a coin flip. Both veterans have been terrific for a Bruins team had some question marks coming into the season. The new Bruins captain has picked up an impressive five goals and 11 points in eight games. His 200-foot game hasn’t suffered at all in 2021. When the 35-year-old is on the ice, the Bruins control 63.51 percent of the shot attempts and 56 percent of the scoring chances, per Natural Stat Trick.
4 - Jeff Petry – Montreal Canadiens:
The Canadiens gave the 33-year-old a long-term extension last off-season and he’s been rock-solid in 2021. Petry has two goals, eight points and a plus-7 rating in the first eight games of the year and he’s logging almost 22 minutes of ice time per game. Not many defenders are playing at a point-per-game clip this deep into the season. Montreal only has three players over the age of 32 on their roster, but they’re all pretty important. Petry, Shea Weber and Carey Price will continue to play big roles for the Habs.
5 - Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks:
Kane can still produce offensively, but his team is no longer one of the elite squads in the NHL. Also, long-time teammate Jonathan Toews has been out of the lineup all year, so more of the burden has fallen on Kane. The 32-year-old four goals and 10 points in his first 10 games of this season. If the Blackhawks find a way to sneak into the playoffs against all odds, it'll be because Kane dragged them there.
6 – Sidney Crosby – Pittsburgh Penguins:
We know how great Crosby is and has been, but the advanced stats show he’s still elite. Per Natural Stat Trick, the Penguins control 60.09 percent of the shot attempts and 60.78 percent of the high-danger chances when he's on the ice. The 33-year-old also has four goals and four assists in nine games this season. Evgeni Malkin got off to a slow start, but he should be rounding into form fairly soon to help Crosby out.
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7 - Max Pacioretty – Vegas Golden Knights:
Pacioretty is getting the nod ahead of teammate Marc-Andre Fleury because he’s played in more games. Not only has Pacioretty scored six goals in his first seven games, he’s also put up some impressive advanced stats. When the 32-year-old is on the ice, the Golden Knights control 57.74 percent of the shot attempts, they score 72 percent of the goals and they have 61.29 percent of the high-danger chances at five-on-five.
8 – Patric Hornqvist – Florida Panthers:
The 34-year-old is off to a terrific start with his new team. Hornqvist has picked up at least one point in five of Florida’s six games this season. Even though the numbers will probably even out sooner or later, he currently has the same amount of points as Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau and he’s found the back of the net more times than both players combined. He has five goals and two assists this season.
9 - Anze Kopitar – Los Angeles Kings:
At 33 years old, Kopitar is not only leading the Kings in scoring, he has twice as many points as Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter, who are all tied for second. The veteran has just one goal in eight games, but he’s also accumulated 12 points in 2021. Kopitar has three years remaining on his contract after this season, so it’s nice to see that he still has plenty of game left.
10-Blake Wheeler – Winnipeg Jets:
Despite turning 34 years old last August, Wheeler remains very productive for the Jets. Through eight games this season, the veteran has picked up three goals and five assists. Wheeler will have to continue to pick up a lot of the offensive slack now that Patrik Laine is gone and Pierre-Luc Dubois is still in quarantine, but that shouldn’t be an issue for him. He’s still a really effective player.
11 - David Perron – St. Louis Blues:
Perron put together his second career 60-point season last year and he’s picked up exactly where he left off. The 32-year-old had just one assist in his first four games, but he’s now riding a five-game point streak. The Blues forward is up to four goals and five assists in eight games in 2021.
12 – Claude Giroux – Philadelphia Flyers:
Giroux had four assists through the first six games of the season, but he’s upped his production over the last few nights. Even though the 33-year-old has scored just once this year, he’s still producing at a point-per-game pace. Giroux is riding a four-game point streak and he’s picked up six points during that stretch. He has 10 points in nine contests overall. When Giroux is on the ice, the Flyers control almost 62 percent of the high-danger scoring chances.
13 - Semyon Varlamov – New York Islanders:
Yes, the Islanders are probably the most defensive team in the NHL under head coach Barry Trotz, but their starting netminder still deserves some credit. But Varlamov has dropped three straight decisions after winning his first three starts. He has a 3-2-1 record with a very solid 2.00 goals-against-average and a .924 save percentage in 2021. He’s started six of his team’s first eight games.
14 - Ryan Suter – Minnesota Wild:
The 36-year-old is still eating up big minutes on the back end for the Wild. He’s averaging 22:18 of ice time per game, but he’s also played over 24 minutes three different times. Suter has six assists in 10 games. What’s more impressive is that the Wild control 70 percent of the high-danger scoring chances when he’s on the ice, according to Natural Stat Trick.
15 - Jordan Staal – Carolina Hurricanes:
Staal missed two of Carolina’s six games because he was on the Covid-19 list, but he’s been productive whenever he’s played. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but it’s nice to see that he’s off to a good start. The 32-year-old has a goal and three helpers in four games in 2021. On the down side, Carolina gives up 65 percent of the high-danger chances when he’s on the ice, per Natural Stat Trick.
16 - Phil Kessel – Arizona Coyotes:
Kessel’s first year with the Coyotes was a little quiet offensively, but he came out of the gate red-hot in 2021. He had three goals in his first two games and four in his first four. He’s cooled off considerably since then, as he’s picked up just one assist in his last four games. The 33-year-old is playing on a mediocre team with average offensive talent, so he isn’t well-surrounded. He still needs to put the puck in the net more consistently.
17 - Eric Staal – Buffalo Sabres:
The 36-year-old is the second Staal on this list. He’s taken on an important role as a leader in a Buffalo organization that needs to take a few steps forward in 2021. Staal has three goals and two assists in 10 games this season. He no longer needs to be the go-to option on a team, but he’ll continue to be an important part of his team’s supporting cast in the months to come. Staal has a modified no-trade clause, but he’s in the final year of his deal, which means there’s a chance he could be moved if the Sabres are out of the playoff picture.
18 - Bobby Ryan – Detroit Red Wings:
Ryan’s story is a great one. He managed to get himself back on the ice after going through the NHL’s substance abuse program and he’s been relatively productive. He has four goals and two assists in nine games for his new team. It’s important to note that all four of his goals came in the first three games of the year. He has just two assists in his last six outings, but a drop in production was expected.
19 - Brent Burns – San Jose Sharks:
On the surface, Burns’ in four points in eight games looks respectable, but three of those points came in one game against the St. Louis Blues early on in the season. The 35-year-old is coming off a year in which he scored 45 points in 70 games and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him produce at that 0.64 points-per-game pace again in 2021.
20 - Travis Zajac – New Jersey Devils:
Zajac is the only player on the Devils’ roster over the age of 32. The 35-year-old has found the back of the net twice in seven games, but he’s missed the last two for Covid-19 related reasons. He’s played just over 84 minutes at even-strength this year, but his advanced stats are very impressive. When he’s on the ice, the Devils own 57.66 percent of the shot attempts and 59.26 percent of the high-danger chances, per Natural Stat Trick. The sample size is obviously small.
21 - Mikko Koskinen – Edmonton Oilers:
Koskinen played in Edmonton’s first 10 games before finally getting a night off on Sunday. He hasn’t been particularly good this season, but we knew that the Oilers’ goalie situation would be a problem coming into 2021. He has a 4-6-0 record with a 3.45 goals-against-average and a .895 save percentage this season. They need him to be better if they’re going to get into the playoffs.
22 - Mark Giordano – Calgary Flames:
Giordano is just two seasons removed from winning the Norris Trophy, but he doesn’t impact the game as much now as he did back then. The Flames captain is still an important leader, but he’s taken a step back. When he’s been on the ice in 2021, the Flames have controlled just 46 percent of the shot attempts, 41 percent of the scoring chances and 30 percent of the high-danger chances, according to Natural Stat Trick. He’ll improve on those numbers, but he’s not a top-pairing guy anymore.
23 - Ryan Getzlaf – Anaheim Ducks:
Getzlaf hasn’t found the back of the net yet, but he’s first on the team in scoring, with five points. Even though he’s not as impactful a player as he was in his prime, the 35-year-old is still a key leader for the young players on the Ducks roster. It’ll be interesting to see how this season plays out for him, as he’s in the final year of his contract. Will he retire a Duck or will the organization trade him to a contender before the deadline?
24 - Alexander Edler – Vancouver Canucks:
Whether or not Edler can stay healthy this season remains to be seen, but he’s only missed one of his team’s first 11 games in 2021. The 34-year-old is averaging 19:28 of ice time this year and he’s accumulated three assists. The Canucks are a better team when Edler is playing an important role. He’s in the final year of his current contract.
25 - Nick Foligno – Columbus Blue Jackets:
Only Alexandre Texier has scored more goals for the Blue Jackets than Foligno has this season. The 33-year-old has three goals and an assist in 10 games, but he’s now gone four games without finding the back of the net. The Jackets captain has already had to deal with an uncomfortable situation between Pierre-Luc Dubois and the organization, and it’s going to be important for him to keep this young team on track.
26 - Wayne Simmonds – Toronto Maple Leafs:
It would have been nice to be able to put Joe Thornton on this list, but he’s out for an extended period of time. Both Simmonds and Jason Spezza had three-game point streaks come to an end against Edmonton on Saturday. Both vets have been productive, but Simmonds had scored three goals in three games (his first three of the year). He seems to be moving a little better than he had been in previous years.
27 - Pekka Rinne – Nashville Predators:
The Predators only have two players on their roster that are 32 years old or older (Brad Richardson is the other one). Rinne has turned into the backup goaltender behind Juuse Saros and he hasn’t looked great. The 38-year-old owns a 1-2-0 record with a 3.31 goals-against-average and a .869 save percentage this season. Rinne won his first game of the year against Chicago on Jan. 26. His last win came on Feb. 16, 2020.
28 - Jack Johnson – New York Rangers:
You may be surprised to see Johnson’s name on this week’s list, but he’s the only Ranger over the age of 32. The 34-year-old is currently sidelined with a groin injury and he’s also served as a healthy scratch once in 2021. Here’s a relatively positive stat for Johnson: In his 65:40 of ice time at five-on-five, the high-danger chances are split right down the middle for the Rangers and their opponent.
29 - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Colorado Avalanche:
The Avs have just two players that qualify for this list in Bellemare and Erik Johnson, and both have had unspectacular seasons so far (Johnson has played in just four games). Bellemare is currently sidelined with a lower-body injury and he’s out indefinitely. The 35-year-old has no points in eight contests this season.
30 - Pat Maroon – Tampa Bay Lightning:
Believe it or not, Maroon is one of two players the Bolts have on their roster that is currently over the age of 32 (backup goalie Curtis McElhinney hasn’t played a game yet). He hasn’t really made much of an impact this year, as he’s failed to pick up a point in the first six games of the year. He’s averaging a shade under 11 minutes of ice time per game.
31 - Braydon Coburn – Ottawa Senators:
As you’d expect, the rebuilding Senators only have two players over the age of 32 on their roster (Artem Anisimov is the other one). Coburn was brought in to be a veteran leader on this squad and that’s what he’s done. The 35-year-old has one assist in seven games this season and he’s averaging just over 17 minutes of ice time per game. He served as a healthy scratch in back-to-back games last week.