Chances are, Teemu Selanne will not make his debut Friday when the Anaheim Ducks visit the St. Louis Blues. And while there’s an outside chance he’ll play Saturday night in Philadelphia, the most realistic scenario will likely have him in the lineup for the first time next Tuesday when the Ducks visit the New York Islanders.
In any event, when Selanne does officially return, he’ll be throwing by the wayside an NHL record. Of course, the opportunity to win another Cup and make almost $1.8 million will almost certainly soothe Selanne’s pain.
What record would Selanne hold, you ask?
Why, he would have held the honor of having the most points of anyone in NHL history in his last season.
Selanne’s 48 goals and 94 points in 82 games would have put him on top of that list by a fairly considerable margin had he remained retired.
Coincidentally, Scott Niedermayer would have held the No. 1 distinction among defensemen had he stayed retired after his 15-goal, 69-point season last year. That would have been one point better than Pekka Rautikallio, who left the Calgary Flames after the 1981-82 season.
The best last season for a goalie probably belonged to one of two former Montreal Canadiens who retired in the primes of their careers.
Bill Durnan hung up his pads following the 1949-50 season after posting a league-best 2.20 goals-against average, winning the Vezina Trophy and being named a first-team all-star.
Ken Dryden called it a career after winning his fourth straight Stanley Cup in 1978-79. Dryden also led the NHL in GAA at 2.30 (his five shutouts were also tops) and won both the Vezina Trophy and a first-team all-star designation.
Here are the top 10 final offensive NHL seasons in history, along with team, age, and whether they retired or kept playing. Players with asterisks won the Stanley Cup in their final campaigns.
7 seasons in Sweden
4 seasons in WHA
8 seasons in Swe/Swit
7 seasons in WHA
5 seasons in Finland
2 seasons in AHL