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Young Guns Ready To Fire

At this site, I've often made great proclamations highlighting the Canadiens multitude of youthful talents speaking well for the team and its prospects of the future. Chances are, you have read them here before and know that I am a big believer in building the team from the draft.

Teams nowdays are put together in several ways and changing times dictate different means and measures to fast track success. While adding players via trades or free agency often put teams over the top, it is the foundation they've built up from the draft that make them contenders to start with.

Drafting well is still the best way to build for long term and long standing success. Always was and always will be.

The great Canadiens teams of the 1970's, as well as the 1986 and 1993 editions also serve as examples of firming up the base with good drafting. Looking outward to organizations such as Detroit, Colorado, and New Jersey, who have won multiple Cups while remaining perenial contenders through the last decade, it is hard to disagree with the formula of laying the groundwork bricks with youth upon which glory is to be built.

At present, the Canadiens average age is 27.8, which makes them the 7th youngest team in the league. On the teams official site there was a recent article touting the Habs as one of the few organizations in the NHL that could boast the achievement of having all its first round picks from 2001 to 2005 in their lineup.

Mike Komisarek, Chris Higgins and Andrei Kostitsyn were the first in order, while Kyle Chipchura (2004) and Carey Price (2005) are just beginning their NHL careers. This achievement should not be overlooked. It testifies to the Canadiens vision of ensuring that the team will be built and maintained through the draft.

Take note that 9 other players drafted within that same five year period have played games with the team and have made small to significant contributions as well. They are, in draft order:

Alexander Perezhogin, Duncan Milroy, and Tomas Plekanec in 2001
Jonathan Ferland in 2002
Maxim Lapierre and Jaroslav Halak in 2003
Mikhail Grabovski and Mark Streit in 2004
Guillaume Latendresse in 2005

Of the 14 players in total, 8 are presently on the current roster and are aged between 20 and 25 years. Given that most hockey experts agree that players tend to peak between the ages of 26 and 28, the Canadiens are poised to have a very strong and youthful core in place in just about three years time.

The best news of all comes when seeing it flat on a page in a more statistical form. Here are the ages of the 23 players in the present lineup, from oldest to youngest:

Brisebois 36
Smolinski 35
Kovalev 34
Hamrlik 33
Koivu 32
Bouillon 31
Dandeneault 31
Huet 31
Begin 29
Streit 29
Markov 28
Kostopoulos 28
Ryder 27
Komisarek 25
Higgins 24
Murray 24
Plekanec 24
Grabovski 23
Kostitsyn 22
Gorges 22
Chipchura 20
Latendresse 20
Price 20

There are 9 players aged below 28 years old, when players tend to peak. In three years, or with an additional 200 or so games of experience, those players are still below that age. As those players grow in terms of importances to the team, the older players in the current lineup will be pushed from the lineup to make room for the next wave of prospects that include names such as Jaroslav Halak, David Fischer, Sergei Kostitsyn, Lapierre, Ryan McDonagh, Matt D`Agostini, Max Pacioretty, and others.

Though certain veterans of the current lineup would still remain, the Canadiens will have done the trick of gaining a more experienced core, while maintaining it's youthful base and average age nearing 27 or 28 years old. Through this time, a firm and established lineup should gel. It would be one where all the pieces fit snuggly into the team puzzle and all the roles of players are sharply defined.

This is the model that Detroit and New Jersey have parlayed into a decade of consistency. The Canadiens are on their way to establishing the same ideals.

Out of curiousity, I looked up the average player ages of other teams. It is interesting to note that Buffalo, Ottawa, and San Jose are all relatively young teams that can content for the Cup with the lineups they have in place. With proper grooming of its younger elements, Montreal will soon be considered their equal.

Edmonton 26.4
Buffalo 27.2
San Jose 27.2
Ottawa 27.4
Phoenix 27.5
Flyers 27.7
Montreal 27.8
Columbus 28.1
Nashville 28.1
Penguins 28.1
Panthers 28.2
Chicago 28.3
Colorado 28.6
Boston 28.6
Capitals 28.7
Minnesota 28.8
Vancouver 28.9
Islanders 29.0
Rangers 29.0
Toronto 29.1
Anaheim 29.2
Lightning 29.2
New Jersey 29.2
Calgary 29.4
Dallas 29.5
St. Louis 29.6
Los Angeles 29.6
Thrashers 30.0
Hurricanes 30.0
Detroit 31.8