Boston Bruins: How old is ‘too old’ to still be a competitive team?

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 12: Zdeno Chara #33, Patrice Bergeron #37 and Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins await to shake the hands of the St. Louis Blues after losing Game Seven of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 12, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 12: Zdeno Chara #33, Patrice Bergeron #37 and Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins await to shake the hands of the St. Louis Blues after losing Game Seven of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 12, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /
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Hockey is a young man’s game; the Boston Bruins are getting a bit long in the teeth. Can they remain competitive?

When a season ends for any NHL team, no matter what the endgame scenario was, it’s inevitable that both professional and armchair analysts alike will agonize over everything regarding the upcoming season; strength of schedule, pending free agents and how much longer to hang onto a team’s core. It’s during these times when we all must ask the dreaded question; how old is ‘too old’, especially given the Boston Bruins’ core?

Hockey is a physically demanding sport. Playing at its highest level can degrade the human body years before it’s meant to – knee ligaments shred like paper, muscle strains lead to more serious ailments and there could be a whole other serious of posts on the adverse effects that multiple concussions have had on athletes.

With this in mind, it’s easy to understand why the average age of the NHL player skews so young. Roster Resource has a fascinating ticker which shows each NHL roster’s average age.

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The youngest average belongs to the Montreal Canadiens, who have an average age of 25.8. On the other side of the equation, the Pittsburgh Penguins narrowly beat out the Los Angeles Kings for oldest NHL roster with an average age of 30.1.

Weird to think that 30 is ‘old’ isn’t it?

But let’s move away from the general and turn to what I know you’re all wondering: how do the Boston Bruins stack up in terms of average age? Do they really have an age problem?

Roster Resource lists the Boston Bruins at 24th in terms of having the oldest average age, with their calculations putting the average Boston Bruins’ roster member at 28. I cross-checked this with Hockey-Reference, which listed the average age for the 2018-19 Boston Bruins at 27.9.

Hockey-Reference looked at the 39 players who were at one point listed on the Bruins roster, and I feel this is a good set of data to extrapolate from, considering this is essentially what the Bruins are working with right now (prospects and possible free agent deals aside). It’s my article and I’ll do what I want!

As of Feb. 1 of this year, 28 players on the Boston Bruins were in their 20’s. This contrasts with 10 players in their 30’s and only one in his 40’s (hi, Big Z!).

Six players on the complete roster by February 1st were 22, the second-largest age group for Bruins players was 23, and the third-largest age group was 21. There were no players between the ages of 36 and 40.

Forwards had an average age of 25.8, belied by veterans like David Backes as well as young stars like Jake DeBrusk. Defense also averaged at 25.8, the Bruins’ two goalies averaged at 32.

Looking at the numbers it appears that the complete Bruins roster, considering all those who passed through this season, were pretty young. This surprised me, given that the Bruins are known for their dependable, mostly over-30 core players such as Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and the aforementioned Zdeno Chara.

Knowing what we know now, how do we want the Bruins front office to proceed? Should they hold onto the vets as long as possible or prioritize developing prospects and younger players? This depends on whether one has more faith in the present or in the future.

I’d say that keeping experienced and dedicated players as long as they still perform to the highest standard is essential to keeping a consistently good team, even if it means that the Bruins have to pass on a hotshot here or there.

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After all, age is just a number.