How Many Canadian Hockey Players Are In The Nhl? [Expert Guide!]

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The National Hockey League (NHL) is the premier professional hockey league in North America. Founded in 1917, the NHL boasts 16 teams across Canada and the United States. Over the years, the league has attracted some of the greatest hockey players of all time. With over 600 players registered with the league, it’s clear to see the profound impact hockey has had on Canadian society.

While the majority of NHL players hail from Canada, plenty of stars have come from other countries. In the 2018-2019 season, the San Jose Sharks will be honoring the legacy of Mario Lemieux by displaying the number “7” on their sweaters. Lemieux, one of the greatest hockey players of all time, spent the majority of his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins before returning to his homeland in 1997. Since his retirement in 2001, the seven-time All-Star has remained active in hockey, serving as an assistant coach for the Canadian National Team and as a member of the Board of Directors for the Canadian Hockey League (CHL).

In this article, we’ll take a look at how many Canadian hockey players are currently in the NHL, as well as which nationalities boast the largest presence in the league. Enjoy!

How Many Canadian Hockey Players Are In The Nhl?

It’s difficult to put an exact figure on the number of Canadian hockey players in the NHL. After all, it is a competitive league and new players are always being added. However, we can get an idea of how many Canadians have played in the league by looking at the number of former NHL players who have returned home to play. These days, the NHL alumni association not only keeps track of players’ careers but also of their lives after they leave the game.

According to the association, there are currently 536 former NHL players registered as active members – that’s almost 2% of the entire league! Of those, 484 are still living – which is incredible! Let’s take a look at how many of those alumni are still playing, who the biggest star of the group is, and which nationalities are represented:

Still Living

To determine which retired NHL players are still living, we need to first separate the living from the dead. The NHL alumni association keeps track of players’ vital statistics and recognizes those who are deceased. The association also lists the year each player last played in the league as well as their current status (active or inactive).

By looking at last season’s active roster, we can see that 234 out of 536 alumni are still playing. The biggest surprise here is that the majority of the players are still active in the league. Only 72 have registered as inactive, presumably because their careers are coming to an end. Players like Chris Petersen, Mathieu Dantoni, Andreychuk, and Kukulka still have good years left in them and, therefore, are expected to play at least one more season.

Most Active

Just because a player has retired doesn’t mean he can’t still be active with the NHL Alumni Association. In fact, the association lists players’ career statistics along with their current involvement in the organization. For example, former Edmonton Oilers player Charlie Hoggins is currently the Assistant Commissioner of the Ontario Hockey League. Another former NHL player, Rob Ray, is the head coach and general manager of the Westside Warriors of the British Columbia Hockey League. Finally, former Detroit Red Wing George McPhee has been the president of the NHL Alumni Association since 2014.

Looking at the organization’s website (, we can see that several ex-NHL stars are currently involved with the league. Of course, the biggest name on the list is probably Wayne Gretzky, who, alongside his brother David, formed the Dynasty that is the Edmonton Oilers. Other alumni from Edmonton include Luc Robitaille, Grant Fuhr, Kevin Lowe, and Chris Pryba. The Oilers have won 12 Stanley Cups over the years, most recently in 2007. This year is the club’s 75th anniversary and they are celebrating by using their iconic white sweaters with the blue and orange diamond pattern on the chest.

With 16 teams in the National Hockey League, it’s not a surprise to see several former Detroit Red Wings players on the list. Another prominent team is the Montreal Canadiens, whose alumni include Max Kaminsky, Doug Jarvis, and Yvon Chicoine. The team has won four Stanley Cups over the years and is one of the most successful organizations in NHL history. Its biggest achievement came in 1993, when the team won its 15th Stanley Cup in a row. Sadly, the Canadiens had to wait another nine years to achieve its 16th Stanley Cup triumph.

Biggest Nationalities

While the majority of NHL players come from Canada, the league has attracted plenty of players from other countries. Currently, the biggest nationalities in the league include the United States, Russia, and Sweden, which has produced an incredible 204 players. The Czech Republic and Finland have contributed 147 players to the NHL over the years. Despite its relatively small population, the country has produced some top-notch hockey talent, with names like Teemu Selanne, Esa Tikkanen, and Mika Gretzky. Interestingly, Canada has the second-largest number of alumni in the league with 536 members, compared to the United States, which has 474 players. The next-largest country in terms of number of past hockey players is Russia, which has 390 registered members.

The Average Age Of NHL Alumni

Amongst the list of former NHL players, there is a wide range of ages. The oldest player is probably 94-year-old Frank Fontaine, who played for the Boston Bruins, New York Americans, and Montreal Canadiens during his Hall of Fame career. The youngest player is probably 23-year-old Jack Rosseau of the San Jose Sharks – not bad for a rookie!

The average age of former NHL players is 43. In comparison, the average age of active players is 29. This is somewhat remarkable, considering that the older players have to deal with aches and pains as they age while the younger players enjoy their sport more. Still, there are several notable exceptions, such as Teemu Selanne, who is 42 years old and still plays for the Anaheim Ducks – the same team he played for back in 1998!

Unfortunately, the NHL Alumni Association doesn’t publicly disclose the number of years each player spent in the league. Only 72 out of 536 members list the number of years they played as their profession. Based on the available information, it is safe to assume that the majority of former NHL players are either retired or close to retirement. The league itself is currently facing its own “age issue”, with several stars entering their 30s and some even their 40s. While it’s still a popular sport amongst the general population, the number of people playing at a professional level is slowly declining. With more and more players opting to focus on coaching or management careers, there is a real chance that the NHL could become “old” in the coming years.

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