Thanks to generational talents like Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, and Patrik Laine, the NHL is currently reveling and embracing a youth movement that has not been seen in quite a long time. While the aforementioned players continue to shape professional hockey’s future, there are still an elite group of veteran leaders who continue to hold their own in today’s youthful and fast-paced game.
At present there are 11 NHL captains at the forward positions who have celebrated 30 or more birthdays on God’s green earth. Henrik Zetterberg, the Detroit Red Wings’ 36-year-old bearded leader, once again ranks as one of the best on this exclusive list of players.
Behind Shane Doan (40) and Brian Gionta (38), Zetterberg is the third oldest NHL captain on the offensive side of the puck, tied with Mike Fisher and Henrik Sedin. But it’s not Z’s age that makes him standout, it’s his production.
Henrik’s 45 assists this season not only leads the Red Wings, it also leads his 30-year-old and up counterparts. Blake Wheeler, captain of the Winnipeg Jets, who just barely cracked the list at age 30, comes in second to Zetterberg with 41 assists this season. Many of the Red Wings’ younger players have certainly benefitted in the goal column from playing alongside Henrik in 2016-17.
When it comes to the plus/minus category, Zetterberg has the second best rating of a plus 15. Mikko Koivu leads the pack with a plus 25 rating currently. Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks holds a plus 13 while Alex Ovechkin is maintaining a plus seven. Zetterberg’s fellow countryman, Henrik Sedin, comes in at the bottom of the list with a dismal minus 22 rating.
When it comes to the all important points per game statistic, Henrik ranks a respectable fifth with 0.83 P/GP. Ryan Getzlaf leads this group with an impressive 0.94 P/GP. Pavelski (0.88), Wheeler (0.85), and Ovechkin (0.84) are the only other players to just barely out produce Zetterberg in points per game.
Hank not only leads the Wings in assists but in total points also. Zetterberg’s 60 points this season puts him fourth on this list. Once again only Pavelski (64 pts), Wheeler (63 pts), and Ovechkin (61 pts) just barely edge out the Wings’ captain.
Putting all numbers and statistics aside, I believe that there is one category that Zetterberg has excelled in that some in the hockey world outside of Detroit may have overlooked. After all of the numerous, inconsistent, and just downright bad games that the Wings have played this year, Henrik always boldly stood in the locker room and faced the media’s postgame questions. Many times putting all the blame on his shoulders, often when he didn’t have to or shouldn’t have.
Detroit’s fall from NHL supremacy has been both hard to stomach and process for many fans in Hockeytown, I can only imagine some the restless nights and pressure Henrik must have faced over the last five to six months. Despite those facts, Zetterberg has never once appeared to give less than all his nearly 40-year-old body can give.
Based upon the above information, Henrik Zetterberg has proven without a shadow of a doubt that he is one the NHL’s elite offensive captains. Despite the Red Wings’ copious amounts of problems and struggles this season, Zetterberg has certainly not let his age or current situation impact his game.