As we approach late summer, a handful of older NHL veterans remain unsigned. And that begs the question: are they not listening to Father Time telling them they’re due to retire, or are they right to hold out in the hope a job opens up for them? Let’s take a look at five such players and offer an opinion on whether they should hang in there or hang ‘em up:
Saku Koivu, C: At age 39, Koivu had 11 goals and 29 points for Anaheim last season. His Corsi-for number has fallen steadily since 2012 and his ice time has been reduced by an average of more than three minutes a game (to just 15:02 last year) since 2011-12, but remember, he’s been on a deep Ducks team that didn’t need to rely on him. In the right environment – in other words, on a playoff-bound franchise – he can provide help down the middle and on faceoffs. Hang in there or hang ‘em up? Hang in there
Martin Brodeur, G: Nobody questions why Brodeur wants to continue playing. When you’ve accomplished as much as he has and is considered one of the greatest goaltenders in hockey history, it’s only natural you’d want to stick around for as long as possible. But anyone who’s seen the decline in his game in recent years wouldn’t hold it against him if he retired. The lack of interest in him as a starter is telling. If the 42-year-old is willing to play a backup role on a contender, he might have a little bit left in the tank. If not, the writing is on the wall. Hang in there or hang ‘em up? Hang in there as a backup; hang ‘em up as a starter.
Daniel Alfredsson, RW: Yes, he’ll turn 42 in December, but Alfredsson still made an impact last season, finishing tied for first among Red Wings pointgetters with 49 points in 68 games. He’s already made it clear he’s either returning to Detroit or retiring, but the Wings want and need him back, which confirms his value as an NHLer. Hang in there or hang ‘em up? Hang in there
Ray Whitney, LW: The 42-year-old winger scored fewer goals (nine) in 69 games with Dallas last season than the 11 goals he scored in 32 games in 2012-13. His ice time also plummeted from 19:23 per game two years ago to 13:57 last season. He’s had 22 NHL seasons, but it’s unlikely he’ll extend that to 23. Hang in there or hang ‘em up? Hang ‘em up
Todd Bertuzzi, RW: Bertuzzi’s play has fallen off precipitously since his second stint with Detroit began in 2009. In 59 games last season, he amassed just three goals and nine points at even strength. And his Ontario court case with Steve Moore is scheduled for September 8. Even if he took a pay cut from the $2.075 million he made last year, Bertuzzi wouldn’t attract much interest. Hang in there or hang ‘em up? Hang ‘em up