Mike Knuble And Fine Wine: Both Better With Age?

Will Mike Knuble have a career year at 38?

It’s no secret that Mike Knuble is a fan favorite not only among Capital fans, but around the NHL in general. He’s a hard-working winger who lurks in front of the net, regularly crashes the crease and & capitalizes on rebounds in front of the net. This garbageman-mentality helped him score goals at a higher rate in 2009-10 (.42 per game) than in any other season in his career. And he did it all at the ripe age of 37.

But we here at RMNB are worried. Should Mike Knuble’s age cause us to temper our expectations in 2010-11?

The boxcar stats on Knuble were impressive last season: 69 games played,  29G/24A/53Pts +23. Other wingers who played 40 games or more while producing at least .5 Points Per Game after age 38, which is where we should expect Knuble to be if he continues playing on the Caps’ top line with Ovechkin and Backstrom, include:

  1. Brendan Shanahan
  2. Brett Hull
  3. Dean Prentice
  4. Gordie Howe
  5. John Bucyk
  6. Mark Messier
  7. Mark Recchi

We can see on the chart this group’s production holds relatively stable through ages 39-40 before the sample size becomes increasingly small.

Games Played and Points Per Game Ages 37-43

Games Played and Points Per Game Ages 37-43

This allows us to project Knuble’s production to fall somewhere between 43 – 48 points this year. Not terrible for an old man, but is it enough to sustain him on the top line with Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom?

  • http://musingsofacapsfan.blogspot.com Netty

    maybe. I’d love to see Fehr get a shot with Ovie and Backstrom though.

  • Tim

    Knuble has one advantage over many of those players – he started playing full-time later. He was 25 before he got his first season with any real playing time (53 games in 1997-98). And he was 30 before he was given his first real shot at a top line. So right now, he’s only in his 12th actual NHL season. I think he can still pull 20-25 goals and 20-30 assists this season. If those were his numbers, it would be his worst season since the lockout. I feel very comfortable with Knuble on the 1st line wing, due to his skill set – one which none of the other Caps have gotten yet, although Fehr and Laich are starting to.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Russian Machine Never Breaks

    One of my main worries about Knuble is his lack of speed. Last year he looked a step behind for the first month or two of the season. It was rather disconcerting. I’m glad he found his mojo with Nicky and Ovi mid-season and the second half of last year however. Hopefully they can pick up right where they left off when the new season starts.

    But I’ve gotta admit, with Kanoobs, I’m worried. I ask myself “Is this the year his stats are going to tail off?” But I have a feeling he’s like Mark Recchi , where no matter how many times you try to write him off, he still is a productive player and finds a way.

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  • Tim

    Knuble isn’t the fastest guy, but he brings so much to the game. He is also one of the toughest, scrappiest guys I have seen play – the PK where he singlehandedly kept the puck in the other team’s end for 40+ seconds still stands out in my mind as one of the best moments of last season. I think he has one or two good years left. Even if he drops down to the 3rd line at that point, I think he can still benefit the team by mentoring the younger players and playing a strong PK. I think much of Fehr’s improvement was due to Knuble helping him to improve his play in front of the net – something Fehr said Knuble worked on both him and Laich with last season.

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  • holly golightly

    I think we’ll know this early in the season and i think the answer will be yes. i’m not as concerned about his speed. He has the positioning, determination and chemistry with the top line to continue to consistently deliver.

  • http://www.irockthered.net/ IRockTheRed

    I’m not worried about Knuble’s age. He’s a workhorse. He’s going to be around for at least a couple more seasons.

    Side note and completely unrelated, where do I sign up to get Wes to do MY voicemail announcement? LOL! Those are GREAT!!!

  • 28ISGREAT

    I like Knuble – but I think moving Semin off the first line and putting Knuble in – for as long and as consistently as Boudreau did – was ill advised. Particularly against Montreal in the playoffs.

    This upcoming season I’d like to see Knuble up front about 20% of the time, and not nearly as much as he was the second half of last season.

  • Tim

    Knuble should be on the 1st line every game. The 1st line is better with Semin, but the 2nd line severely suffers. Ovechkin needs a Knuble-type on his line to create traffic – and Semin won’t do that.