Tournament: Which Veterans Will Be The Most Productive Over The Next Five Years?

by Rick Roos on March 20, 2019
  • Roos Lets Loose
  • Tournament: Which Veterans Will Be The Most Productive Over The Next Five Years?

 

Welcome of the second of what now will be monthly tournaments/polls, with your votes in the first poll anointing Andrei Vasilevskiy, Connor Hellebuyck, Frederik Andersen, Carter Hart, and Carey Price as the five goalies who’ll have the most wins in the next five seasons, starting in 2019-20.  Sticking with the crystal ball theme of five years from now, the question this week is which skaters who are currently 30+ years old will, in five years, still be as good (or at least in the same echelon) as they are now.

 

As you’ll see when you arrive at the poll (a link to which is provided at the bottom of the column) I’ve given you the option of choosing as many of the 18 players as you want, so go ahead and cast your vote for any and all you think will be at least as good/productive (or in roughly the same ballpark) as they are now by the time March 2024 rolls around.  There’s also a “none of the above” option if you truly think not a single one of these skaters will be able to stay productive enough.  One last note – if a player is doing atypically worse or better this season, then you should base your vote on what would be his more normal output in view of recent seasons.

 

Before getting to the player choices (which are listed in alphabetical order along with their age, contract status, and scoring pace for 2018-19 through March 17th), I figure it makes sense to share some “food for thought” data to perhaps influence how you might vote.  So here’s a table with scoring for age 35+ skaters since 2000-01.

 

Age

Forwards with 75+ points

Defensemen with 45+ points

35

8

8

36

9

6

37

3

5

38

3

2

39

2

3

40+

1

2

 

 

Nicklas Backstrom (age = 31; signed through 2019-20 for a $6.7M/year; scoring pace = 77 points)

After his worst season in 2017-18 since his rookie campaign saw him tally “only” 71 points, Backstrom is seemingly back to his norm of just under a point per game production despite the presence and further development of Evgeni Kuznetsov.  In fact, whereas some are wondering if Backstrom could continue to produce this well if Washington opts not to re-sign him, perhaps that might ultimately be the best thing for Backstrom given Kuznetsov’s looming presence?

 

Patrice Bergeron (age = 33; signed through 2021-22 for a $6.875M/year; scoring pace = 98 points)

Although he’ll be 38 in five years and, assuming he stays healthy, a veteran of more than 1500 total NHL games by then, Bergeron seems poised to defy father time and continue producing, especially if he and Brad Marchand (more on him below) are able to continue to play together and maintain their magical chemistry further into their 30s.

 

Brent Burns (age = 34; signed through 2024-25 for an $8M/year; scoring pace = 84 points)

Yes, Burns will be 39 in March 2024; and were he not signed through 2025, he might not have made the cut to be included among voting choices.  That’s because elite older d-men are about as rare as they come, as shown by the table above; and although it’s unlikely that Burns can maintain his current pace at age 39, he could defy the odds and be very productive even with more grey in that long beard of his.

 

Dustin Byfuglien (age = 33; signed through 2020-21 for a $7.6M/year; scoring pace = 66 points)

Big Buff, who turns 34 in a week, will miss 13+ games this season for the third time in the last five campaigns.  In fact, he’s played barely 925 games in his career to date; so although with his big frame those are tougher games to log, he might have it in him not only to play until he’s 38 but to remain a top defenseman scoring option in fantasy all the while.

 

Sidney Crosby (age = 31; signed through 2024-25 for an $8.7M/year; scoring pace = 107 points)

The calendar keeps turning, and Crosby keeps producing.  With this his sixth straight season not missing a chunk of time, and his skill and hockey sense both as sharp as ever, on paper he’s seemingly as good a bet as any to continue to be able to produce at or near his current levels into his mid-30s.

 

Evgeni Dadonov (age = 30; signed through 2019-20 for a $4M per year/year; scoring pace = 66 points)

One of two on the list who spent most of their careers in the KHL, Dadonov has acclimated to the NHL game quite well and looks well equipped to produce into his mid-30s.  The big question is whether he’ll stick around or instead pull a Pavel Datsyuk and go back overseas to finish his career.

 

Claude Giroux (age = 31; signed through 2021-22 for an $8.275M/year; scoring pace = 86 points)

Although well below his torrid scoring pace from last season, Giroux has shown more than enough for poolies to look past his other seasons of declining production prior to 2017-18.  Giroux likely will aim to continue building a Hall of Fame resume, and what better way to help out that cause than to tack on another five seasons of elite production?

 

Patrick Kane (age = 30; signed through 2022-23 for a $10.5M/year; scoring pace = 116 points)

With how amazingly Kane is playing this season, it’s easy to forget he had only 165 points in 164 games over the prior two seasons.  It seems, however, that Kane plays his best when the Hawks count on him to step up.  If only we knew how much the team would need him in five years….

 

Phil Kessel (age = 31; signed through 2021-22 for an $8M/year; scoring pace = 82 points)

He might not be the poster boy for fitness, but Kessel is clearly a smart player and quietly has morphed his game over the past two seasons to be less of a sniper and more of a playmaker, especially on the PP, where his skills could easily be maintained for five more seasons.

 

Anze Kopitar (age = 31; signed through 2023-24 for a $10M/year; scoring pace = 58 points)

Is the real Kopitar what we witnessed last season, or what we’re seeing now?  Probably something right in the middle.  The big question is whether Kopitar will opt to play beyond 2023-24, as his name is on the Stanley Cup twice and if he plays well enough between now and then he should already have a Hall of Fame resume.

 

Kris Letang (age = 31; signed through 2021-22 for a $7.25M/year; scoring pace = 72 points)

While his many injuries might cause his body to break down before age 36, they just as easily could have the effect of giving him fresher legs than most his age, allowing him to keep playing and producing even once he’s that old.

 

Evgeni Malkin (age = 32; signed through 2021-22 for a $9.5M/year; scoring pace = 88)

Given his unique combination of size and elite skill, Malkin could very well be productive even one he’s 37.  The issue is whether – like Letang – all the time he’s missed due to injury will give him a boost due to having fresher legs, or instead cause him to be less productive due to wear and tear.  I’m quite curious what your votes will have to say.

 

Brad Marchand (age = 30; signed through 2024-25 for a $6.125M/year; scoring pace = 100)

Not only does Marchand seem to be only getting better with age, but he’s actually signed to play for five more seasons; and as crazy as it might seem, he could be trying to build a Hall of Fame resume over that time, so his effort level might still remain at or near where it is now.

 

Alex Ovechkin (age = 33; signed through 2020-21 for a $9.538M/year; scoring pace = 93 points)

Already in most peoples’ minds the best pure goal scorer of the 21st century, fast forward to five years from now and Ovi could be putting himself into the conversation to be among the best of all time, which might be more than enough motivation for him not only to keep playing until 38 but also to still possess much of the same greatness he has now, ala what Teemu Selanne did.

 

Alexander Radulov (age = 32; signed through 2021-22 for a $6.25M/year; scoring pace = 78 points)

Like Dadonov, it’s not clear if Radulov will stay in the NHL once his current contract runs out or perhaps return to the KHL.  But with his talent and hockey sense, he could easily be a productive player at age 37.

 

Ryan Suter (age 34; signed through 2024-25 for a $7.538M/year; scoring pace = 50 points)

Like Burns, Suter might not have made the cut were it not for the fact that he’s signed through six years from now.  Plus, it’s not like he’s a 60 point d-man now, so him being able to substantially maintain his current level of production isn’t farfetched.

 

Blake Wheeler (age = 32; signed through 2018-19 for a $5.6M/year; scoring pace = 100 points)

First poolies questioned whether he was for real.  He showed he was.  Now their concern has shifted to whether he can continue to play at this elite of a level as he gets deeper into his 30s.  Those who’ve bet against Wheeler thus far have lost, so does it make sense to do so here?

 

Keith Yandle (age = 32; signed through 2022-23 for a $6.35M/year; scoring pace = 63 points)

One of the most unsung producers in fantasy, Yandle has stayed quite productive as he aged and even on some lousy teams, tallying the fifth-most points among all NHL d-men since 2013-14.  His production doesn’t rely heavily on either speed or on power, so seeing him remain quite good even five years from now at age 37 is within reason.

 

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There you have the 18 voting choices.  And here’s the link for you to cast your votes to have your voices heard.  As you’ll see in the poll and as noted above, there will be a 19th choice for “none of the above” if you think none of these 18 players will be as productive (or at least substantially as productive) in five years as he is now.

 

Mailbag Questions Needed

Next week is my monthly mailbag column, and there’s still time to send me a question for inclusion.  You can do so either by emailing the question to [email protected] with “Roos Mailbag” as the subject line or instead you can send me a private message on the DobberHockey Forums – my username is “rizzeedizzee”.  Just be sure to include as much information and details about your league as possible, as that way I can not only give you an informed response but also make the answer most relevant to other readers.  See you next week!