The NHL has seen many players take the ice throughout the league’s history, but only a dedicated few have made impressions that will last a lifetime. Pioneers and record breakers, such as Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, and Bobby Hull, have engraved their names in the league forever. However, there is room to share the glory; three current players are breaking sticks and taking names as they vie to become the greatest skaters in NHL history.
At 43 years old, Florida Panthers right winger Jaromir Jagr is currently the oldest active player in the NHL. Having been in the game for quite some time, Jagr has the accolades to show for it.
During his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jagr won back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships (1991 and 1992). He also earned bragging rights for being a nine-time NHL All-Star, five-time Art Ross Trophy winner (earned for scoring the most points), and is third in the league for all-time goals. Presently, Jagr is the current active leader for games played, goals, assists, points, power-play goals, and game-winning goals
Pittsburgh saw immediate talent in young Jagr after picking him up in the first round of the 1990 NHL draft. The right winger spent 11 seasons in Pittsburgh before playing on several more teams throughout his career. As of right now, Jagr is featured in the starting lineup for the Florida Panthers in his 23rd NHL season.
Jagr’s career is similar to the one experienced by Hall of Famer Gordie Howe. During his tenure with the league, Howe played for 32 seasons and retired at the age of 52 – making him the oldest player to suit up in the NHL. Some of Jagr’s other career stats match closely with Hall of Famer Joe Sakic and Finnish winger Teemu Selanne. There’s no doubt that he will join these legends in the Hall of Fame once he retires.
Ovechkin the Great
Alexander Ovechkin is a Russian-born hockey player known for his aggressive play style as well as scoring goals. Ovechkin was picked up in the first round by the Washington Capitals during the 2004 NHL draft and has continued to stick with the D.C. team. Ovie’s dedication has not gone unnoticed. He became the team captain for the Caps in early 2010.
Ovechkin is determined to win the Stanley Cup and has earned many accolades along the way. He is the current active leader for goals per game and hat tricks, in addition to being a six-time Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner (most goals). He is also a five-time NHL All-Star and a three-time Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player) and Hart Memorial Trophy winner (most valuable player).
There’s no doubt that Alex Ovechkin can be compared to several legends, such as Mario Lemieux, Phil Esposito, and Howie Morenz. All three of these greats have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Chances of Ovechkin joining them? Pretty high, considering he’s showing no signs of slowing down as he works to finish, and hopefully extend, his 13-year contract with the Caps.
Three-time NHL All-Star Henrik Lundqvist was picked up in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL draft by the New York Rangers – the team he remains with today. Lundqvist received his nickname “King Henrik” from fans who witnessed his greatness during his rookie season, where he boasted incredible on-ice stats.
During his time in the Big Apple, Lundqvist made a name for himself at Madison Square Garden. The stats he put out throughout his rookie season earned him a spot on the 2005–2006 NHL All-Rookie Team. The King was also named the 2011–2012 Vezina Trophy winner for being the top goalie in the league. He is the second current active goalie leader for games played, wins, shutouts, and minutes.
Lundqvist’s play style and stats are similar to other NHL greats, such as the likes of Tony Esposito, Curtis Joseph, and Dominik Hasek. Two of these three legendary goalies have been inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame. The Rangers have made sure the King will be around for a very long time – they offered him a seven-year contract extension in 2013. He has more than enough time to extend his legacy in the city that never sleeps.
Some Legends Never Die
As the old saying goes, “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” That’s why it is paramount to witness these greats in their prime. If you haven’t already, make it a priority to catch these legends in action. There’s no telling what time has in store for them, but one thing is for certain – they have secured their spot as NHL legends.
No matter who you’re a die-hard fan of – Jagr, Ovechkin, or Lundqvist – be sure to stock up on their latest gear. Fanatics has got you covered from head to toe – in NHL gear, of course – so you can support the legend of your choice.