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NHL teams bigger, younger than a year ago

Tampa Bay Lightning players, including Pierre-Cedric Labrie (76), Dana Tyrell (42) and Sami Salo (6), of Finland, wait for the lights to come back on during a delay after they were dimmed for the National Anthem before the start of a preseason NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn.

Associated Press

It wasn't difficult to pick out the trend in NHL training camps this season.

The players on tryouts were often older veterans like Hal Gill in Philadelphia, trying to beat out younger players for a spot on teams looking for speed and roster flexibility more than a player on the downswing.

Some were successful.

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Others, like former Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Ryan O'Byrne, headed for Russia or other European leagues.

The overall effect was that the league got slightly younger, year over year, with the average age in the NHL dropping from 28.2 last season to 27.8 this year, based on opening-night rosters.

The five youngest teams in the league this season are Buffalo, Columbus, Winnipeg, Toronto and Carolina. The five oldest are New Jersey (the only team with an average age over 30), Detroit, Pittsburgh, Florida and Dallas.

One other trend that has fluctuated the last few years is the size of NHL players, which dropped slightly coming out of the 2004-05 lockout but is beginning to creep up again.

This season, the average height and weight in the league is up slightly, to 6-foot-1.3 and 203.7 pounds.

The five biggest teams in the league this year based on both height and weight are Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Winnipeg, Phoenix and Toronto. The smallest are Minnesota, Calgary, the Islanders, Montreal and Detroit.

These averages are based on full rosters, including goaltenders and players on injured reserve. The breakdown for all 30 teams is available here.

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