Every season, there is some old dude on a contending team's roster trying to get a championship before he retires. Sometimes he skates off into the next life, like Mark Recchi did with the Boston Bruins in 2011. And some are like Matt Cullen, who we all assumed would do the same thing after winning a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins and then ... didn't.
But the farewells aren't restricted to playoff teams, nor to players who are in their twilight years. The final few weeks of the NHL season will see many players, with expiring contracts or contracts teams might want to move, competing in their last games for a given franchise.
This week in the NHL Power Rankings: the most likely farewell tours for all 31 teams.
How we rank: We use a panel of voters, and these rankings reflect which teams voters think would win head-to-head matchups. Higher-ranked teams are favored over lower-ranked teams. A run of wins doesn't guarantee a jump, and a couple of losses doesn't guarantee a fall.
Previous rankings: Preseason | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15 | Week 16 | Week 17 | Week 18 | Week 19 | Week 20 | Week 21 \ Week 22
Week 22 Ranking: No. 1
Mike Fisher. One assumes the itch will be scratched, both for the player and the team seeking a low-cost, known commodity for its fourth line, so enjoy the unretired veteran's last spin around the rinks.
Week 22 Ranking: No. 2
Chris Kunitz. He's 38 and on a one-year deal. If the Lightning win, does he go out a winner? (And if they win, how many clutch moments will Kunitz, a frequent playoff hero for the Penguins, have had along the way?)
Week 22 Ranking: No. 5
Zdeno Chara. This is a tough one because the big guy is playing phenomenal hockey and has been an incredible mentor to players such as Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy. But Chara is 40 and in the last year of his contract. If the Bruins win the Cup, perhaps this is the end for Big Z. In any case, enjoy this season from a timeless classic of a player.
Week 22 Ranking: No. 3
David Perron. An impending unrestricted free agent who might find money and terms outside of a team that might not want to hand it out to a 30-year-old.
Week 22 Ranking: No. 4
Toby Enstrom. He has played his entire career with Winnipeg, but the defenseman turns 34 in November. His ice time has dipped this season, and as a pending UFA, this could be the last flight for this Jet.
Week 22 Ranking: No. 7
Carl Hagelin. Look, as constructed, the Penguins don't have a lot of players in their last days or players who are pending UFAs. But they might need to open up some cap room, and Hagelin, who turns 30 in August, will be in his walk year. Enjoy the flow for now.
Week 22 Ranking: No. 8
James van Riemsdyk. It's hard to imagine the Leafs without JVR, and it's hard to imagine JVR wanting to leave this team. But he's a UFA looking long term, and it isn't implausible that they both move on.
Week 22 Ranking: No. 6
Barry Trotz. This list isn't just for players. It's also for the coaches who don't have contracts that extend beyond the end of the season.
Week 22 Ranking: No. 9
Valtteri Filppula, who is a pending unrestricted free agent. I'm very much looking forward to the Flyers not holding a Valtteri Filppula Night at any point in their future.
10. San Jose Sharks
Week 22 Ranking: No. 11
Joe Thornton. Every season we have with Jumbo is a blessing, so here's hoping this won't be the last. But in case it is ... here's hoping he comes back healthy enough to score four goals in a game.
Week 22 Ranking: No. 12
Torrey Mitchell. Good dude. Plays hard. Probably won't be a King next season as a UFA.
Week 22 Ranking: No. 19
Jack Johnson. Everyone's best intentions are to work out some kind of contract extension, but the veteran Blue Jackets defenseman could easily leap to another team as a free agent.
13. Minnesota Wild
Week 22 Ranking: No. 10
Matt Cullen. The 41-year-old center has indicated that this is his last rodeo, and he deserves all the "beloved old fourth liner" affection Wild fans can muster.
Week 22 Ranking: No. 16
Ryane Clowe's cap hit. Just kidding. For lack of a better option, we'll go with John Moore, an unrestricted free agent whom we're sure the Devils would like to keep but who could see a pretty penny on the open market.
Week 22 Ranking: No. 15
Blake Comeau. Will he move on after three seasons with the Avalanche? Just remember, Colorado: You're playing every game left this season not only for an improbable wild-card spot and a potential Hart Trophy for Nathan MacKinnon but also for another few weeks of Blake Comeau.
16. Dallas Stars
Week 22 Ranking: No. 13
Kari Lehtonen. If this is indeed the last ride for one of the most overpaid yet potentially underappreciated netminders in the NHL, then he goes out having ably filled in for Ben Bishop during the latter's most recent injury.
17. St. Louis Blues
Week 22 Ranking: No. 18
Scottie Upshall. Although it's entirely possible that Upshall will be like Milton from "Office Space" and just keep showing up even without a paycheck.
18. Calgary Flames
Week 22 Ranking: No. 21
19. Anaheim Ducks
Week 22 Ranking: No. 14
Francois Beauchemin. The war horse will be 38 in June, and this could be the last blue line he patrols in the NHL after three stints with the Ducks.
20. Florida Panthers
Week 22 Ranking: No. 17
Roberto Luongo. Let's be absolutely clear here: Luongo is on a Jaromir Jagr-like level of "we don't want this person out of our hockey lives at any point in the foreseeable future." But he turns 39 in April and could easily go out on top if he'd like. Or, he could return next season to play for about half his base salary. But he's, um, probably not sticking around to make $1.618 million in 2019. Just sayin'.
Week 22 Ranking: No. 24
John Tavares? (Not trying to pile on or cause panic, but until the ink is dry ...)
Week 22 Ranking: No. 23
Artem Anisimov. Artie's no-move clause becomes a no-trade clause after this season, he has value, and the Blackhawks need to get younger and cheaper any way they can.
Week 22 Ranking: No. 20
Bill Peters. The owner wants a new GM. The new GM will probably want to pick a coach. Everyone wants playoff games, and Peters hasn't coached one yet.
24. New York Rangers
Week 22 Ranking: No. 22
Alain Vigneault. A maligned coach who nonetheless currently has the best points percentage of anyone who was with the team for more than one season. But one assumes he will step away to make room for the rebuild.
Week 22 Ranking: No. 27
Marc Bergevin. Make sure you give a wave to a well-tailored man in the GM's box at Bell Centre, in case the Canadiens don't land Tavares and he is ousted.
26. Edmonton Oilers
Week 22 Ranking: No. 26
Oscar Klefbom. The defenseman was apparently in play around the trade deadline, and as a young player with a good contract, would anyone be surprised if Peter Chiarelli made him Edmonton's next regrettable trade?
Week 22 Ranking: No. 28
Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin. Here's hoping the twins sign one-year deals that keep both of them in Vancouver. But in case they don't, they deserve double the adulation as the season heads to its finish.
Week 22 Ranking: No. 25
29. Buffalo Sabres
Week 22 Ranking: No. 30
Josh Gorges. Remember when Gorges picked the Sabres over the Leafs? Good times.
30. Arizona Coyotes
Week 22 Ranking: No. 29
Max Domi. The Coyotes' pugnacious forward has been rumored to be getting a "fresh start" somewhere else as he hits restricted free agency. (Please note our restraint in not going for the cheap heat of listing the Coyotes themselves here, though I guess we just violated that with this parenthetical note of self-congratulation.)
31. Ottawa Senators
Week 22 Ranking: No. 31
Bobby Ryan. Even he thinks his days are likely numbered in Ottawa. "I guess I'll just wait and see how it goes in the summer," he said. "That's all you can do."