Detroit Red Wings: Why the Team Must Get Younger in the NHL Offseason

Zac Sweeney@@sweeney_zacContributor IIIMay 7, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 06:  Nicklas Lidstrom #5 of the Detroit Red Wings during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena on February 6, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Red Wings 3-1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Now that the Red Wings have been knocked out of the Stanley Cup race by the Nashville Predators, the team must decide on what their first off-season moves are going to be. 

On a personal level, as a writer with no personal bias towards the Red Wings what so ever, I feel that the squad should cut ties with some of their older players and focus on bringing in some younger players to start forming the Detroit Red Wings of tomorrow.

Here's why.


The Team, As A Whole, Is Closer to 30 Then 20

I took it upon myself to find the average age for a Red Wings player today. I found that, on average, a player is 29 years old. Now, I know that in today's NHL it's not uncommon for a player to be playing well over 30, but having a team made up of aging players isn't the best plan for the future. 

No matter who you are, after so many years in the NHL, your body starts to slow down. By the time you're around 30, you aren't playing like you were when you were 20 or 21. 

That being said, if the whole team is playing like a bunch of 30-year olds, they could easily be outplayed by a team that's playing like a bunch of twenty-somethings. 


Need To Plan For The Future

Even though the two oldest players on the roster, Nicklas Lidstrom at 42, and Tomas Holmstrom at 39, are still playing at a high level of play, their years are numbered in the league—Lidstrom especially. 

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 19:  Tomas Holmstrom #96 of the Detroit Red Wings warms up before the NHL game against  the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena on January 19, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Red Wings defeated the Coyotes 3-2 in an overtime shoot o
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The team will need to build towards a future by adding younger players to the roster in order to replace the veterans that will be leaving the league in a few years. 

The young guns can learn from the veterans as backups and learn what it takes to be in the NHL. The veteran teachings that will be given to these younger players will prove invaluable to them in their own careers and will probably make the transition out of the league easier for the veterans since they won't be quitting hockey cold turkey.

It will be a gradual phasing out over the course of their final handful of seasons. 


Need To Be Ready For A Mass Retirement

The heading may sound odd, but anytime a team is aging as a whole, the fear of the whole cast of characters deciding to retire all around the same time flares up in my mind.

It would have a similar effect to college sports teams who are built heavily around one class. When the class graduates or leaves, the whole group of players tends to move on around the same time, leaving the team hard pressed for leadership and experience. 

If a scenario like this were to happen, players like Holmstrom, Lidstrom and Bertuzzi, along with a handful of players in their mid-30s, could retire within a few season of each other.

With such a devastating blow to the team's roster as far as performance and leadership, the team would be in disarray for an unknown amount of time.

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 23:  Todd Bertuzzi #44 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the St.Louis Blues during their NHL game at Joe Louis Arena on January 23, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Dave Sandford/Getty Images

The Red Wings Are The Second Most Aged Team In The League

A study shows that the Red Wings have the second highest average age in the NHL, barely younger than the New Jersey Devils by fractions of a year. 


With talented teams like the St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers being both on the rise and on the younger side of the spectrum, the Red Wings should start thinking younger in order to keep up these young, hot teams. 

The Red Wings have proven time and time again that they can be a dominant force in the NHL. The team being knocked from the playoffs early should not be of any concern to the fans—it's just getting closer to a "changing of the guard" in Detroit, if you will.

The older players need to start looking at skating into the sunset in order to make way for the NHL Superstars of the future. 

With young talent, the Red Wings will be more aligned with a 12th Stanley Cup than a first round knockout.