There won't be a YoungStars event at the 2011 All-Star Game presented by Discover, but there certainly will be a ton of young stars at the event.
One common theme in the most recent edition of fan balloting released Tuesday is the relative youth of the players receiving the most votes.
Of the top five goaltenders, three of them are age 25 or younger. Of the top 10 defensemen, five are 25 or younger, and of the top 10 forwards, a remarkable eight are 25 or younger.
In fact, the top three in overall voting -- the Penguins' Sidney Crosby
and Kris Letang
and the Canadiens' Carey Price
-- are just 23 years old.
It certainly doesn't hurt Crosby that he leads the League with 27 goals and 57 points, and has at least a point in 21 straight games. Or that Letang is second in scoring among defensemen with 29 points. Or that Price leads the League with 18 wins.
"Our fans have clearly taken notice and are appreciating their effort," said NHL Vice President of Hockey and Business Development Brendan Shanahan
, who played in the first of his eight All-Star Games at age 25. "It speaks well to the future of the game."
The forward spot is where the age gap comes into the play the most. The oldest of the top five is 24-year-old Evgeni Malkin
of the Penguins, who ranks third. After Crosby is the Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews
, 22; Malkin; 20-year-old Steven Stamkos
of the Lightning and 22-year-old Patrick Kane
of the Blackhawks. The oldest players in the top 10 are the Canadiens' Michael Cammalleri
and Tomas Plekanec
, both of whom are 28.
The first forward in the 30-or-older category is the Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk
, 32, who is 11th, just ahead of 33-year-old Danny Briere
of the Flyers, 31-year-old Marian Hossa
of the Blackhawks, 31-year-old Brian Gionta
of the Canadiens, and 30-year-old Henrik Zetterberg
of the Red Wings.
In goal, the Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury
just missed hitting the 25-and-under category -- he turned 26 on Nov. 28 -- but that leaves 22-year-old Flyers rookie Sergei Bobrovsky
and the Blues' 25-year-old Jaroslav Halak
in the youth movement.
The only player older than 30 in the top five is the Bruins' 36-year-old Tim Thomas
, who is fourth. After Thomas, the next over-30 player is the Sabres' Ryan Miller
, who ranks seventh, and the Canucks' 31-year-old Roberto Luongo
, who is 10th.
The one place older players have done the best is on defense. While five of the top-10 in voting are 25 or younger, four are 35 or older. Leading the graybeards is the Flyers' 36-year-old Chris Pronger
, who ranks third. Just behind him is 40-year-old Red Wing Nicklas Lidstrom
and 35-year-old Flyer Kimmo Timonen
. The Red Wings' Brian Rafalski
, 37, is 10th.
Between that foursome, there are seven Norris trophies, a Hart Trophy and eight Stanley Cups -- quite a trophy case.
Bracketing Timonen and Rafalski, however, are four members of the youth brigade -- the Blackhawks' Brent Seabrook
, 25; Canadiens rookie P.K. Subban
, 21; the Kings' Drew Doughty
, 21; and the Thrashers' Dustin Byfuglien
That youthful foursome includes a pair of Stanley Cup champions, a Norris Trophy finalist and a very promising rookie. So while they might not have the hardware of their brethren, they certainly have earned their popularity.
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com