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Noon Number for 9-2-2013: 8

A look at the age of some Wild players.

Dany Heatley just welcomed Mikko Koivu into being on the wrong side of 30. Which, I might add, hasn't worked out for Heatley.
Dany Heatley just welcomed Mikko Koivu into being on the wrong side of 30. Which, I might add, hasn't worked out for Heatley.
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Niklas Backstrom, Keith Ballard, Matt Cooke, Dany Heatley, Mikko Koivu, Zenon Konopka, Jason Pominville, and Mike Rupp. As projected now, these are 8 of the players that will make the team's opening roster. They will also all be age 30 or older.

This of course, does not mean imminent doom for anyone in particular. However, it is a fair thing to say that players tend to decline in their 30s. You maybe get a step slower. Your reaction time maybe isn't what it used to be. Perhaps that injury you recovered from at age 25 starts to nag a little more at 35. Whatever the individual causes are, players don't tend to raise their performances after 30.

So, is having 8 30+ players on our roster a problem? Probably not. The Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks had 6 such players on their team, and, well, they won the Stanley Cup. Furthermore, of the over-30 players, at least two of them- Zenon Konopka and Mike Rupp- are expected to play limited roles on the team. And the team has flexibility with these gentlemen, only Niklas Backstrom, Mikko Koivu, and Matt Cooke are signed past 14-15, with Backstrom and Cooke only being signed one year after that.

What may be a tad more concerning, however, is that next season Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will each have their 30th birthdays. It could be a risk relying on an aging core of Koivu/Parise/Suter going forward, especially with the possible signings of Thomas Vanek and re-signing of Jason Pominville.

Also concerning is the end of last season. We saw Dany Heatley operating at a reduced level, then getting hurt. We saw Jason Pominville play brilliantly, then get hurt. We saw Niklas Backstrom wear down, then get hurt. We saw Mikko Koivu fade and fade hard, apparently due to fatigue. These are all incidents that could be tied with each player getting older.

As I said earlier, crossing the 30 threshold doesn't mean a player will decline, or cease to operate at a usable, even high, level. The hockey world is celebrating Teemu Selanne's return, and he contributed at age 42 last year! Stars (Selanne, Jagr), and non-stars (Ray Whitney) alike can contribute to a team deep into their 30s and beyond with a mix of hard work and luck. I'm not saying any one of these guys in particular are due for an imminent, sharp decline.

However, when you talk about making free agent signings, or sacrificing prospects for experience, or chewing up cap room that will be needed to sign guys like Jonas Brodin, Charlie Coyle, or Mikael Granlund, you may want to think about what a risk it may be if the Wild puts all of their eggs in an over-age-30 basket.