The resurgence of the Pittsburgh Penguins as cup contenders in the mid-2010s depended on skill and speed. A factor in that shift was the insurgence of young talent from the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins of the AHL. No such cavalry is coming for next year's team, leaving the Penguins with the oldest roster in the NHL.
According to CapFriendly, the Penguin's current projected 20-man roster for the 2022-23 season has an average age of 30.0 years. If no other moves are made by general manager Ron Hextall this summer, that figure makes the Penguins the oldest team in the NHL.
Penguins management strived to make the team bigger and heavier this summer while also creating room underneath the NHL's salary cap. They accomplished that goal but doing so has drastically increased the team's average age.
The first order of business for the Penguins was bringing back the entirety of their veteran core, signing Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang to new multi-year contracts. Malkin and Letang are both 35 years old but are both coming off good seasons, with the latter having a career year.
Over the past week, the Penguins have added three new defensemen to their lineup, including 34-year-old Jeff Petry and 31-year-old Jan Rutta. The two right-handers figure to become staples in the Penguin's defense core for the next couple of seasons and join Letang and Brian Dumoulin (30 years old) as the elder statesmen of the blue line.
Even though Hextall added some youth in Ryan Poehling (23) and Ty Smith (22), Hextall's focus on size has pushed the Penguin's average age over 30 for the first time since the Penguin's inaugural season in 1967.
Young players Valtteri Puustinen, Alex Nylander, Drew O'Connor, and P.O. Joseph will have chances to crack the Penguins roster. Unless they all find a way to make the lineup, it will do little to lower the team's average age.
While age isn't a determining factor in Stanley Cups, it does play a part. The wear and tear of an 82-game season is strenuous for even the most physically fit athletes, but that schedule becomes more difficult to navigate with age. Doubting Sidney Crosby isn't a practice that renders much success, but the odds are against him and his veteran teammates.
According to Hockey Reference, the last time a team with an average age of 30.0 years or older won the Stanley Cup was the Detroit Red Wings in 2008, which marked the second time since the turn of the century.
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