The NHL’s top 5 “geriatric” rookies (a.k.a. who’s old & new)

Van Guilder

When, at 30 years and 72 days, Mark Van Guilder made his debut with the Nashville Predators Sunday, he became the oldest player to suit up for his first NHL game this season.

The NHL Network spoke to Van Guilder about his (long) road to the NHL and his first game. It’s worth a watch if for no other reason than his opening line: “First of all, 400 games (in the minors)? Holy crap!”

 

 

With Van Guilder at No. 1, here are the other four oldest NHL debuts from 2013-14:

Anton Belov, Edmonton, D, 27 years, 64 days
No player on this list has contributed more to his team than Belov, who spent nine years in the Russian/Kontinental League before signing with the Oilers in May. He’s had his ups and down – including several scratches both healthy and due to injury, but he’s logging more than 17 minutes a night in his 50 games played. He also suited up for Russia in Sochi.

Julien Brouillette, Washington, D, 27 years, 63 days
The undrafted Brouillette, who’s played more than 200 games in both the American League and ECHL, picked up an assist in his first game and a goal in his second during his first stint with the Capitals in early February. He was recalled Sunday and played his third NHL game, against Nashville.

Reto Berra, Calgary, G, 26 years, 304 days
Expectations were high for Berra after he came over from his native Switzerland. Following some early struggles, specifically with rebound control, the Flames dealt Berra to the Avalanche, who, somewhat questionably, gave him a three-year contract extension. Can goalie guru Francois Allaire work his magic with another big stopper?

Cam Talbot, Rangers, G, 26 years, 141 days
He’s seen just 20 games this season – he’s stuck behind some guy named Lundqvist after all – but when he has played he’s been phenomenal: his .940 save percentage is first in the league and his 1.67 goal-against average is second (behind Minnesota’s Josh Harding). Talbot toiled in the AHL from 2010 to 2013 after spending three years in college with Alabama-Huntsville. If the Rangers make a deep playoff run, Talbot will have played a huge part by allowing ‘The King’ to get his regular-season rest.

(a nod to the always-excellent hockey-reference.com for saving me a lot of time doing math.)

Edward Fraser, The Hockey News’ Managing Editor, joined THN in 2005 after covering the Jr. B Stratford Cullitons. The London, Ont., native graduated from the University of Western Ontario – where he did campus radio color commentary for both men’s and women’s hockey – with a Master’s in Journalism. He really, really hates the loser point.