Who Are The NHL’s Youngest And Oldest Teams?

Out of curiosity on a Friday afternoon, I decided to check out the average age of every team in the NHL. Quite often, there is an instinct that certain teams are ‘young’ and other teams are ‘old’, and it is always interesting to investigate these ‘gut feelings’. Of course, any analysis of this must be tempered by the fact that average age can only tell so much. The average age of the team’s core is probably more significant for a GM, and average ages at different positions are also significant. It should also be noted that average age is not equal experience.

However, with all that being said, it does seem worthwhile to take a little cruise deeper into the NHL’s 30 rosters. One important first observation is that there is not actually a tremendous amount of variance in average age. The league’s oldest team with an average age of 29.2 is Detroit, but their team is only three years older than the youngest team Colorado, who have an average age of 25.9. Here is the full list:

1. Detroit 29.2

2. Tampa Bay 28.8

3. New Jersey 28.8

4. Anaheim 28.8

5. Pittsburgh 28.6

6. Phoenix 28.2

7. Washington 28.0

8. Calgary 28.0

9. Vancouver 28.0

10. Philadelphia 27.9

11. Florida 27.9

12. San Jose 27.8

13. Boston 27.8

14. Dallas 27.8

15. Ottawa 27.7

16. Islanders 27.7

17. Montreal 27.3

18. Columbus 27.3

19. Chicago 27.2

20. Winnipeg 27.0

21. Minnesota 26.8

22. St Louis 26.8

23. Edmonton 26.7

24. Carolina 26.7

25. Los Angeles 26.4

26. Rangers 26.4

27. Buffalo 26.3

28. Nashville 26.0

29. Toronto 25.9

30. Colorado 25.9

There are some surprises in these statistics to say the least. Colorado, Nashville and Toronto are the league’s three youngest teams, Toronto’s average is currently brought down by the absence of a couple of veterans to injury, but these three teams are widely recognised as ‘young’. Buffalo are slightly surprisingly the fourth youngest team, and this is perhaps an indicator that despite the team’s big spending this offseason, they are still very much a roster built for the long-term. Another big mover in the offseason were the New York Rangers, but despite this they are the league’s fifth youngest team. This certainly represents a far cry from the days where the Rangers would go out in free agency and over-spend for over the hill veterans. Better development of youth and a more sensible buying strategy have brought greater success to New York. Interestingly, as young as their core is, Edmonton are only the league’s eighth youngest roster. Other interesting observations in terms of youth include the fact that the Islanders and Columbus are only in the middle of the pack, despite sustained spells at the lower end of the standings.

Detroit’s place at the top of the rankings for oldest team probably won’t come as too much of a surprise to any observers. New Jersey still have one of the older rosters in the league as well. Pittsburgh (fifth) and Washington (eighth) are evidence that average age can be driven up by adding veterans to a youngish core. It is still a little surprising that they have a higher average age than the ninth oldest team Calgary. This is perhaps one of the most obvious examples of a feeling being given by the team’s core. Compare Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green of the Capitals to Jarome Iginla, Jay Bouwmeester and Mikka Kiprusoff to the Flames.

Another factor beyond average age is of course minor league and prospect depth. The Red Wings have maintained one of the league’s most senior line-ups over the last decade, but they have also shown an excellent ability to develop young players through their minor league system. Detroit training camps are testimony to the organisation’s depth.

Average age may be a fairly useless statistic in the grand scheme of things, but make no mistake that finding the balance between youth and experience is a constant concern for all NHL GMs.

Sebastian Egerton-Read

Seb has been writing about the NHL and ice hockey for nearly five years. He has written for a number of different sites and is currently lead writer of The5Hole.com and Hockeyschedule.me. Follow him on twitter @seberead