Slowly but surely, the Canucks are beginning to realize that they need to inject some youth into their line-up.
When they began the season they were the second-oldest team in the NHL, only behind the ancient New Jersey Devils. The Devils were ahead of the rest of the league with an average age of 31-years-old, but the Canucks came in second place with an average age of 28.8.
Of all the crazy events that took place under John Tortorella, it makes you think he had a point when he called this roster stale, at his season-ending press conference in 2014.
The average age of this roster increased by almost a whole year, since they began their tenure under Tortorella with an average age of 27.9. Along with the team growing older, the two largest off-season acquisitions were also into their thirties.
Radim Vrbata, 33 and Ryan Miller, 34 brought the age of the Canucks up a notch. Canuck fans can’t complain since those two additions have been beneficial thus far, but it still remains pertinent that the Canucks need to inject some youth if they want to keep up with the younger (and bigger) teams that they are facing regularly in the West.
The Canucks have started to bring down the age of their roster. Currently, the average age of the team sits at 27.8, thanks to the additions of youngsters Bo Horvat, 19, Frankie Corrado, 21, and recent acquisition Adam Clendening, 22.
Here is a breakdown of the Canucks roster by age.
Average Age of Forwards: 28.3
The biggest issue with the age of the Canucks forwards, is that almost of the top guys are above the age of 30. Nick Bonino, 26 is the only Canucks forward in the top six who hasn’t surpassed 30 years of age.
The offensive force behind the Canucks is the top line of the Sedin twins along with Radim Vrbata. While their offensive production this year has led the team, the Canucks are going to want to inject some youth into their top forward group if they want to have any sustained success.
Having Linden Vey, 23 and Bo Horvat crack the Canucks line-up was a start to becoming more youthful up front, but they are playing bottom six minutes for the team.
While it isn’t easy to acquire or develop young full-time players to put in the top six group, the Canucks are going to have to look at improving that area moving forward. It might be a tough task in the short-term with highly touted prospects Hunter Shinkaruk and Jake Virtaten still a couple of years away from being productive NHL players.
Average Age of Defence: 26.3
Clendening and Corrado have brought down the average age of the roster, but whether they will stay with the NHL club for the rest of the season is another question.
They have also only cracked the line-up due to injury, otherwise the average age on defence would be higher.
Still, the only players on the back-end that are over 30 for the Canucks are veterans Dan Hamhuis, 32 and Kevin Bieksa. The top defensive unit of Alexander Edler, 28, and Chris Tanev, 25, are in their prime and the rest of the defence is between the ages of 25 and 26.
The current defensive core is in a good place age wise, although injuries to key players Hamhuis and Bieksa this season have to be a concern. The Canucks would like to add to their shallow pool of defensive prospects as well.
— Jason Botchford (@botchford) January 30, 2015
Average Age of Goalies: 30.5
After Roberto Luongo, 35, was traded to the Panthers last year, it left the Canucks with a young and inexperienced goaltending tandem. Jim Benning, unsatisfied with the Swedish duo guarding the crease, went out and signed 34-year-old Ryan Miller.
It was a debatable signing at the time, especially with his $6 million per year cap hit, but Miller has provided stability in the Canucks crease.
His presence probably hasn’t been beneficial to Eddie Lack, who has three wins in 11 starts this season. However it is only his second year in the league and still has a .912 save percentage to show for his efforts.
Third string goalie Jacob Markstrom, who just celebrated his 25th birthday, has had a fantastic year for the Utica Comets of the AHL. If he continues his development, some in the Canucks organization believe he can become the next Ben Bishop.
Add second round draft pick Thatcher Demko into the mix, and the future of the Canucks crease doesn’t look so bleak behind Ryan Miller.