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Potential last seasons

With seven Norris Trophies in his career, Nicklas Lidstrom is one shy of Bobby Orr's all-time record. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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With seven Norris Trophies in his career, Nicklas Lidstrom is one shy of Bobby Orr's all-time record. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Hockey fans everywhere are excited for the start of the 2011-12 regular season – but there’s always a bittersweet element to each new year because there are always guys entering their final NHL campaign. Who could we be seeing the last of this time around? That’s the focus of this week’s THN.com Top 10.

10. Daymond Langkow, Phoenix

That Langkow was able to return from a broken neck and play the final four games of last season is a testament to his willpower and toughness. Having just turned 35 and facing unrestricted free agency next summer, Langkow may not want to continue, but even if he does, teams may not be willing to take a chance on him – certainly not at the $4.5 million he’ll earn this season.

9. Jason Arnott, St. Louis

Arnott will be 37 next week and his body has taken a ton of abuse during his 17 NHL seasons. He signed a one-year deal with the Blues and clearly is nearing the end – although he’s 96 points away from the 1,000-career-points mark and may be tempted to play another year beyond this one.

8. Ray Whitney, Phoenix

Whitney will turn 40 in May and is in the final year of his contract. Like Arnott, he’s nearing the 1,000-point plateau (926), but his goal totals have dropped in each of the past four seasons. His gas tank is close to empty.

7. Saku Koivu, Anaheim

The former Canadiens captain and cancer survivor was rumored to have been considering retirement before he signed a two-year deal with Anaheim in the summer of 2010. He turns 37 in November and may be ready to head back to his native Finland after this year.

6. Todd Bertuzzi, Detroit

Bertuzzi has been a consistent 40-point producer in each of the past four seasons. However, he’ll be 37 in February and has a looming date next fall with the Ontario court system and the lawsuit former Colorado center Steve Moore launched against him. That might be enough to end his NHL days.

5. Dwayne Roloson, Tampa Bay

The Lightning’s most valuable playoff performer last spring, Roloson celebrates his 42nd birthday next week and is the oldest player on this list. His current deal expires after this season and there likely won’t be too many teams stepping up to get his name on another contract.

4. Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa

It was somewhat of a shock when Alfredsson admitted this season might be his last. But it really shouldn’t be. The Sens captain turns 39 in December and missed the last 28 games of last season with a bad back.

3. Teemu Selanne, Anaheim

Rumors of retirement have surrounded Selanne for the past few seasons, but at age 41, he may have little choice but to actually follow through on hanging up his skates after this year. The future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer has nothing left to prove, other than how productive he still can be.

2. Martin Brodeur, New Jersey

Another surefire Hall-of-Famer, Brodeur will be 40 in May and has been showing signs of wear and tear for a couple seasons now. If the Devils miss the playoffs for the second straight season for the first time since 1987, will that give Brodeur enough reason to put his legendary goalie pads into permanent storage?

1. Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit

Arguably the greatest defenseman in modern NHL history, Lidstrom was assured of his place as part of the hockey pantheon long ago. Detroit would be happy to continue employing him beyond this season, but the 41-year-old has said he won’t try and emulate former teammate Chris Chelios by playing into and beyond his mid-40s. Enjoy this living legend while you can.

The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.

If you enjoy this feature, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine for the exclusive countdown, Starting From 5, and other great features from the world of hockey.

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