Oldest NHL Player: The Oldest Active Players in 2023

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Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs sits on the bench between teammates Mark Giordano and Noel Acciari

The NHL has changed some of the rules to protect the league’s players from each other, but hockey remains a violent sport. Despite the game’s intense effects on the body, a few players are still on the ice after a remarkable amount of time. Here are the five oldest active players in the NHL.

Oldest NHL player in 2023

Jeff Carter: age 38 (born January 1, 1985)

Center Jeff Carter began his career in 2005. The two-time All-Star currently plays for the Penguins and previously suited up for the Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Los Angeles Kings. Carter also earned a gold medal with Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics. 

Marc-Andre Fleury: age 38 (born November 28, 1984)

Fleury is one of the best goaltenders of his generation. He protected the net for the Pittsburgh Penguins for 13 seasons, winning three Stanley Cups before moving on to play for the Vegas Golden Knights, Chicago Blackhawks, and his current team, the Minnesota Wild. Fleury is one of three goaltenders to reach 500 wins in NHL history. 

Zach Parise: age 39 (born July 28, 1984)

The son of a professional hockey player, Parise began his career as a member of the New Jersey Devils in 2005. The left winger spent six teams with the team, captaining the Devils in the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in six games.

Parise then signed for his home state Minnesota Wild on a 13-year, $98 million contract. The left winger celebrated his 1,000th career game as a pro while on the team, but injuries marred his stint with the Wild. Minnesota bought out the final four years of his contract in 2021.

Parise moved to the New York Islanders for the past two years, but he is currently a free agent. Reports indicate that he is deciding whether to return to the Islanders or call time on his career. 

Joe Pavelski: age 39 (born July 11, 1984)

“Little Joe” scored in his first NHL game and didn’t look back. Pavelski starred for the San Jose Sharks for 13 years and served as team captain for the last four years before moving to the Dallas Stars in 2019. As Statmuse reports, the 39-year-old right winger is the 10th American to score 400 career goals. Pavelski also holds the record for the most playoff goals from an American player with 73. 

Mark Giordano: age 39 (October 3, 1983)

The oldest man still in the league is Mark Giordano, a remarkable circumstance considering he went undrafted in the NHL Entry Draft. One of hockey’s great defensemen, Giordano is a Calgary Flames icon, playing 15 seasons for the team. He led them as the team captain for the final eight years and won the James Norris Trophy at 35 years old in his final season there.

Giordano joined the Seattle Kraken for their inaugural season and now plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Like many hockey players, he has suffered plenty of serious injuries, including a broken ankle, torn hamstring, and torn biceps tendon, to name a few. However, the 39-year-old has returned from all of them without losing any of the grit that makes Giordano such a legend. 

Oldest NHL player ever

Appropriately enough, the oldest player in NHL history is a man affectionately known as “Mr. Hockey.” Gordie Howe retired in 1971 after establishing himself as the best player anyone had ever seen up to that point. However, he couldn’t stay away from the ice for long.

After undergoing surgery to fix a chronic wrist injury, Howe played for the Houston Aeros and New England Whalers alongside his sons Mark and Marty of the newly founded World Hockey Association in the back half of the ’70s.

After the WHA folded in 1979, the renamed Hartford Whalers joined the NHL, and Howe wanted to continue playing. The Detroit Red Wings still held his league rights after his spectacular career with them. But the two franchises reached an agreement so that Howe could stay in Hartford.

Howe played one final season with the Whalers, playing in all 80 games and scoring 41 points to help the team make the playoffs. He was 52 years and 10 days old at the time of his final game, 34 years and 31 seasons after making his first NHL game. 

Youngest NHL player ever

On the opposite end of the spectrum, TwinSpires Edge put together a list of the youngest players in NHL history. There are a couple of modern entries into the record books. Jamie Drysdale and Cole Sillinger were both 18 when they debuted in recent seasons. Wayne Gretzky was 17 when he suited up for the Indianapolis Racers in the World Hockey Association. But the youngest players ever to skate onto the ice accomplished the feat when the NHL was in its earliest stages. 

The youngest NHL player of all time is Armand “Bep” Guidolin, who played his first game for the Boston Bruins in 1942 when he was 16 years old. Guidolin was a talented left winger, but there were some extenuating circumstances behind his quick rise. And by “extenuating circumstances,” we mean World War II. 

The Bruins roster was hollowed out as most players served in the military at the time, so Guidolin was called up in part due to a lack of options. (He left the team for military service after he turned 18.) Guidolin later played for the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Black Hawks before being forced out of the NHL in 1952 because of his open support for the formation of a players’ union. He played in minor leagues until 1961 before embarking on a coaching career.