What Is The Average Career Length, Retirement Age And Age Of NHL Players

What is the Average Age & Career Length In The NHL?

The average age, career length and age of retirement of NHL players tell us a lot about the competitive nature and physical commitment it has had on players. Ice hockey is a physical and energetic sport, but the NHL’s competitive nature makes it even more vigorous. In this article, we will be exploring the average age of NHL players along with the average career length and average retirement age.

We’ll also be covering the reason for the short careers of NHL players. Let’s begin!

Average Age Of NHL Players

Average Age Of NHL Players

The average age of players in the NHL is 27 years of age. The age of NHL players does not range too far from 27 years. This is because only players who showcase good skills, among other factors, stay that long in the NHL. 

Few NHL players are in their late thirties (35-39 years of age), and a higher percentage are in their early thirties (30-34). Meanwhile, the majority of NHL players are either in their early or late twenties. 

In addition, younger, more energetic and vibrant players are mainly added to NHL team rosters through entry drafts. This is because ice hockey requires a large energy reserve. After all, it is a contact and high-stamina demanding sport. 

Moreover, only outstanding players, who have not sustained injuries, retired or moved to other affiliate leagues make it to their early thirties, and fewer to their late thirties while playing in the NHL. This hints at the short career length NHL players have.

In summary, these make up the reason why the average age of NHL players is not very high. More young blood and talent are required in a game as physical as ice hockey, and most of them do not stay long in the league if they do not show good performance on the ice.

Only a handful of NHL players ever play over the age of 40. Currently, the oldest player in the NHL for the 2022-23 season is Craig Anderson, and he is 41 years old. Likewise, he plays for the Buffalo Sabres as a defenceman and has played 20 seasons in the NHL. 

However, the oldest player in NHL history is none other than Mr Hockey himself, Gordie Howe. He played 26 seasons in the NHL, featuring in 1767 games during his career. 

NHL Teams Ranked Based On Average Age Of Players (2021-22 Season)

The table below shows the average age of each team in the NHL and the average age of every player in the league. It is based on the age of NHL players as of the end of the 2021-22  season on the 6th of August 2022. 

NoNHL Team Average Career Length
1Buffalo Sabres24.8
2New Jersey Devils24.8
3Arizona Coyotes25.1
4Detriot Red Wings 25.5
5Chicago Blackhawks25.7
6Columbus Blue Jackets25.9
7Los Angeles Kings26.0
8Philadephia Flyers26.0
9Anaheim Ducks26.3
10Colorado Avalanche 26.3
11Ottawa Senators26.8
12New York Rangers26.9
13Nashville Predators 27.0
14Carolina Hurricanes 27.1
15Florida Panthers27.1
16Vancouver Canucks27.4
17Seattle Krakens27.6
18San Jose Sharks27.7
19Montreal Canadiens27.8
20Boston Bruins28.0
21St Louis Blues 28.0
22Minnesota Wild28.1
23Calgary Flames28.2
24Dallas Stars28.3
25Winnipeg Jets28.3
26Pittsburgh Penguins28.5
27Toronto Maple Leafs28.8
28Edmonton Oilers28.9
29Vegas Golden Knight29.0
30Tampa Bay Lightning 29.1
31New York Islanders29.4
32Washington Capitals29.5
Data from novacapsfans.com

Average Career Length Of NHL Players

Average Career Length Of NHL Players

The average career length of an NHL player is five years (more accurately, 4.5 years). This means a player’s chances of spending five years or less in the league are high. 

Also, most of the players from NHL entry drafts do not eventually make it to the league. This is because a large percentage of the players are shipped to minor NHL leagues, with only the first, second and third pick of each team having a high chance of gaining an NHL contract.

Read More On: The NHL Entry Draft – All You Need To Know.

From statistics, 75% of the players in the NHL do not play up to 140 games or spend up to 2 seasons in the league. This leaves about 25% of players who end up playing up to 12 years in the NHL.

Other leagues, such as the National Football League (NHL), Major League Baseball (MBL) and National Basketball Association (NBA), have 3.3, 4.3 and 4.8 average career lengths, respectively

It is competitive enough for an ice hockey player to make it to the NHL. However, there is a high percentage that the player will barely make it past five years in the league. Nevertheless, the money players make in those five years in the NHL is enough to set the player’s life for good

Reasons NHL Players Have Short Career Length

Reason For Short Career Length In The NHL

There are reasons why players in the NHL do not last very long in the NHL. In this section, we will be looking at each reason and how it affects the career length of players. 


Not every player has the stamina to play 82 games every season in a game as rough as ice hockey. In the NHL, players get sidelined, pushed, shoved, punched, hit from behind, elbowed and more. All of these lead to minor injuries, and minor injuries over time build up to major injuries.

An example of a player who suffered a major injury from repeated minor injuries is Sidney Crosby. During 2011 and 2012, Sidney Crosby missed out on most of the regular season due to recurring concussions from repeated bartering.

Although many players do not usually get a single major injury, repeated minor injuries tend to tell on them more. This is one reason many players don’t play for many years, as they might be forced to retire due to life-threatening injuries. 


A pivotal factor in the career prospect of all NHL players is how well they perform on the ice. Players with exceptional talent tend to stay in the league for years and might never have to move to an affiliate league once in their career. However, players who are unable to deliver the required expectation end up being sent down to minor leagues such as the AHL.

In summary, the NHL is the highest level of ice hockey in the world, and many players are unable to match up with the high-level performance required of them. 

Fitness And Health

The lifestyle players live also determines the length of their careers. Players who smoke, drink, do not exercise or work out end up with more health complications because they are not living healthily. Eating right and exercising also help the body recover from injuries; therefore, a healthy diet should be practised by NHL players. 


Of all the positions in ice hockey, goaltenders tend to have the longest career length in the NHL. This is because goaltenders do not really come in physical contact with other players, therefore, reducing the risk of injuries. Furthermore, the skills of a goaltender are believed to get better with time. Therefore, an older goaltender is preferable to a young goalie because of their gap in experience. 

Average Retirement Age In The NHL 

What Is The Average Retirement Age

Most players in the NHL hang the curtain on their career in their thirties. This number increased over the decade as back in the day, players retired in their late twenties and early thirties. Although this was due to unhealthy lifestyles, among other factors, the retirement age has seen an upward shift in the modern era. 

Most players in the NHL would retire between the ages of 32 and 36. However, this does not mean NHL players do not still retire in their twenties, but the chances are lower in the modern era.

The age of retirement of NHL players is dependent on their career length. Therefore all the factors that affect a player’s career length also affect the player’s retirement age. 

What Do NHL Players Do After Retirement?

After retirement, the possibility of what an NHL player can do is almost limitless. There are NHL players who went into politics after their time in the NHL. Sometimes, Hall of Fame players in the NHL, are taken in to become part of the management of teams or even the league

Retired players can also be called to coach the younger generations. Some retired players are known to become part of the commentation personnel in the league. With their understanding of the game, they better understand gameplay and players.  


At the end of an NHL career, players also get a pension that they can use to set up a life for themselves and their families. However, this is for a select few who have played a certain number of games in the league. The condition for pensions is playing in the NHL for ten years and being on the roster of an NHL team in the entire 82 games of each season.

Thank you for reading.

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