I've seen a fair share of graphs over the years that depict a decline in play from most players after a certain age, or a certain amount of games. I thought I would look at it myself as a little project and ended up losing myself down a bit of a rabbit hole.
I've got a little side project where I plug the night's stats into a formula and generate a game rating using six as the base. Ratings over eight are few and far between, with very good nights being around seven or higher. The beauty of it is that it can be calculated over a season or a career as well as the single game. At the end of the season, there might be McDavid, MacKinnon and Matthews over seven and that is it. The league average to date is a rating of 6.418 and I've put a replacement value at around 6.20 to 6.25.
Here is a graph, that shows the average rating by birth year, with the league average being a flat line.
The strange thing happening this year in the graph above is that the birth year 1985 is not flat or going down like the six or seven years before. It actually leads the NHL, which when you look at the players in that birth year, it is impressive.
I thought I would go through each birth year and look at the most productive skaters and see how they compare to the graph. I will focus on the Western players as much as I can.