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 that the league demands. 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 National Hockey League is 27 years of age. NHL players are typically between the ages of 27 and 30. This is due to the fact that only players with substantial talents and game IQ are able to remain in the NHL for that long.

Few NHL players are in their late 30s (35–39 years of age), while a greater proportion are in their early 30s (30–34). The bulk of NHL players, meanwhile, are either in their early or late twenties.

Entry drafts are also the primary way that NHL teams recruit younger, more lively, and more active players to their lineups. This is due to the substantial energy reserve needed for ice hockey and its correlation to the abundance found in young drafts.

In addition, few players who play in the NHL reach their early 30s, and even fewer do so in their late 30s unless they are exceptional talents and haven’t retired, gotten injured, or relocated to another affiliated league. The limited career span of NHL players is suggested by this.

To sum up, the average age of NHL players is not very high due to these factors. In a sport as physically demanding as ice hockey, there is a greater need for youth and skill. However, not many of these young players perform at the NHL’s level of game style; therefore, most of them do not remain in the league for very long.

Few NHL players ever continue to play after they are 40. Craig Anderson, who is 41 years old, is the oldest player in the NHL as of the 2022–23 season. Moreover, he has 20 NHL seasons of experience and is a defenseman with the Buffalo Sabres.

Gordie Howe, aka Mr. Hockey, has held the record for being the oldest player in NHL history. Over his career, which spanned 26 NHL seasons, he appeared in 1767 games.

Average Age of Players In The NHL For The 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 August 6, 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 Age of Players In The NHL For The 2022-23 Season

During the 2022-23 season, the average age of players was 27.65, having a deviation of 0.33 from the previous season. The team with the highest age average of players in the league is the Pittsburgh Penguins. While the team with the lowest age average is the Vancouver Canucks.

NoNHL Team Average Career Length
1Buffalo Sabres25.7
2New Jersey Devils26.0
3Arizona Coyotes26.3
4Detriot Red Wings 26.7
5Chicago Blackhawks27.3
6Columbus Blue Jackets25.9
7Los Angeles Kings26.7
8Philadephia Flyers26.8
9Anaheim Ducks27.1
10Colorado Avalanche 28.9
11Ottawa Senators26.7
12New York Rangers27.6
13Nashville Predators 27.1
14Carolina Hurricanes 28.5
15Florida Panthers27.8
16Vancouver Canucks25.6
17Seattle Krakens27.7
18San Jose Sharks27.7
19Montreal Canadiens26.9
20Boston Bruins28.7
21St Louis Blues 28.7
22Minnesota Wild28.1
23Calgary Flames28.8
24Dallas Stars27.8
25Winnipeg Jets27.7
26Pittsburgh Penguins30.1
27Toronto Maple Leafs28.5
28Edmonton Oilers27.6
29Vegas Golden Knight28.1
30Tampa Bay Lightning 29.3
31New York Islanders28.5
32Washington Capitals30.0
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.

According to statistics, 75% of NHL players do not compete in up to 140 games or two full seasons in the league. This leaves around 25% of these players who go on to play in the NHL for up to 12 years.

The average career durations for players in other leagues, including the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MBL), and National Basketball Association (NBA), are 3.3, 4.3, and 4.8, respectively.

Entrance into the NHL is very competitive as an ice hockey player. Yet there’s a good chance that the player won’t even make it past five years in the league. Nonetheless, the money that players earn throughout their five years in the NHL is sufficient to change their lives permanently.

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 endurance to compete in 82 games of an ice hockey season. In the NHL, players are elbowed, pushed, punched, shoved, sidelined, and more. All of these result in little injuries, and over time, minor injuries compound to become fatal injuries.

Sidney Crosby is an illustration of a player who sustained a severe injury after sustaining several minor ones. Sidney Crosby missed most of the regular seasons in 2011 and 2012 as a result of recurrent concussions brought on by frequent hits.

Despite the fact that many athletes seldom have a single serious injury, recurring smaller injuries tend to wear a player down faster. One reason why many athletes don’t play for a long time is that they can be forced to quit because of grave injuries.


A pivotal factor in the career prospects 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 expectations 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 way athletes live influences the duration of their careers. Players who smoke, drink, do not exercise, or work out end up with greater health difficulties as a result of their unhealthy lifestyle. Eating well and exercising assist the body in recovering from injuries; hence, NHL players should follow a healthy diet.


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?

The possibilities for an NHL player after retirement are essentially endless. After their tenure in the NHL, some NHL players entered politics. NHL Hall of Fame players have occasionally been hired to work in teams or even league administration as executives.

Retired athletes may also coach the younger generations. There are also instances where retired players have joined the league’s commentary team. They have a greater comprehension of gaming and players thanks to their knowledge of the game.


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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