For the past few seasons, hockey fans have began seeing many player’s long awaited destinies fulfilled. Last season fans finally got to see Alex Ovechkin finally lift the Stanley Cup. This year, fans got to witness the St. Louis Blues finally hoist the Cup for the first time ever. With players finally reaching the ultimate goal, it’s to countdown the top five players fans would like to see with the Cup before they reach retirement.
The number one overall pick in the 2001 NHL draft, Ilya Kovalchuk has made a name for himself in the league. Starting out his career on the Atlanta Thrashers (current Winnipeg Jets) he played eight seasons in Atlanta and notched 328 goals in 594 games. In the 2009-2010 season, Kovalchuk was traded to the New Jersey Devils, where he would spend another four years of his career. He scored 89 goals in 222 games for the Devils. New Jersey offered him a 17-year 102 million dollar contract, but the league denied the transaction as it violated their salary cap.
Kovalchuk would leave to play in the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League – Russia) for five years with the SKA St. Pertersberg. He would return to the NHL in 2018 with the Los Angeles Kings. His age has shown, but he still manages to shine from time to time. The 12-year-NHL veteran played for the Cup in 2012, but lost to the Kings in six games. He has yet to return to the playoffs and compete for the Cup. With his retirement slowly creeping up on him, Kovalchuk is running out of time to finally lift Lord Stanley.
The 33-year-old defenseman has become quite the fan favorite in the NHL. Weber has one of the hardest shots in the league and has scored numerous times from the blueline, because of it. In the NHL Allstar Skills Competition, Weber won the hardest shot contest with a shot that was recorded going 108.5 MPH. Anyone would be crazy to block such a missile! Although his shot isn’t the only thing he is relied upon for. Weber has proven to be an exceptional leader in the game. He was captain of the Nashville Predators for six years (2010-2016) and was named the captain of the Montreal Canadiens when he was traded there in 2016-2017.
The Canadian defenseman has recorded 203 goals and 534 points in 14 NHL seasons. Although his recent seasons have been plagued with injuries, Weber’s time to win a Stanley Cup is running out; Montreal is his last chance at a Cup before his career comes to an end.
Marleau is another veteran player who’s time in the league could be over in the next few years. He played the first 19 seasons of his career with the San Jose Sharks before getting traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2017. Marleau has recorded over 1100 points in over 1600 NHL games. Marleau is also the Shark’s all time leader in goals (508) and points (1082). His leadership skills have made him an even more valuable asset to his teams. He was captain of the Sharks for five years and is an assistant captain on the Maple Leafs.
The 21-year-veteran has recently been in trade talks that could send him to either the LA Kings or the Arizona Coyotes. His career isn’t over just yet, but it is slowly coming to an end shortly.
“Jumbo” Joe Thorton was an obvious choice for this list. When the Sharks were eliminated by the Blues in the 2019 playoffs, many analysts and fans speculated that Thorton had played his final game. A few weeks after the season was officially over, Thorton talked about his future in the league. “I’ll probably stay another five to ten years… I got nothing else going on,” Thorton said at the NHL Awards Ceremony in Las Vegas. It doesn’t look like Thorton is going anywhere anytime soon! The 21-year-veteran has appeared in well over 1500 games and has registered 1478 points. He is just under a point-per-game (.985 points per game).
Thorton played the first seven and a half years of his career in Boston. He would then get traded to San Jose where he would play another 14 seasons. The closest he’s ever come to the Cup is when the Sharks played in the Finals in 2016.
The King is the number one player fans want to see win a Cup before retirement. Lundqvist, 37, has spent his entire career with the New York Rangers. He’s averaged a .918 save percentage, a 2.41 goals against average and over 60 shutouts in his career so far. Lundqvist’s closest chance at the Cup was back in 2014 when his Rangers lost to the LA Kings in five games.
The Swedish net-minder hasn’t been back to the Finals since. With the Rangers currently in a rebuild, it doesn’t look like Henrik will be getting another shot any time soon unless he were traded. Lundqvist is a very classy player. He’s been nominated for the King Clancy trophy numerous times with his work in charities and other events/fundraisers.
Those are the top five players fans would like to see win the Stanley Cup before they reach retirement. Honorable mentions that just didn’t quite make the list are the following players: Roberto Luongo, Brent Burns, Jaroslav Halak, and Pekka Rinne.