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Teenagers Making Their Marks Early

by Canadian Press / Chicago Blackhawks
The kids aren't just playing in the NHL these days, they're stealing some of the spotlight.

From Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in Chicago, to Marc-Edouard Vlasic in San Jose, Jordan Staal in Pittsburgh and Milan Lucic in Boston, teenagers are making significant impacts for their respective NHL teams, seemingly more than what the 18-and 19-year-old players used to bring to the table in years past.

Why? Theories vary.

Some believe it's due to better training, other think it's the change in style of play in the new NHL. Then there's the fact that entry-level players generally come cheaper in the new salary cap world.

There's probably truth in all of them.

Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero, having seen Staal and superstar Sidney Crosby crack his team as 18-year-olds, points to physical fitness.

"For some of these kids like Kane, Toews and Staal, 18 or 19 years old still, they're so strong," said Shero. "You see these kids now - they've got their personal trainers, these guys have worked so hard, they're certainly at a different level than the same kids were 5-6-7 years ago. ...

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