The Halifax Mooseheads are the worst team in the QMJHL by a healthy margin. But the youngest? Not quite.

Although it’s easy to assume the rebuilding club is the youngest in the league, the Mooseheads are actually seventh in that category with an average junior age of 17.42.

The Mooseheads’ decision to keep veterans such as Tomas Knotek and Pascal Amyot at last weekend’s trade deadline has stopped them a step short of a complete tear-down.

That, according to the brain trust, is critical for future success.

“If you unload all your 19s and 20s, you’re left with a group of immature kids with no one to hold them accountable when the coaches aren’t around,” said head coach and general manager Cam Russell. “We have good role models here who show the younger guys the proper way to act on and off the ice.”

Russell wants his veterans to help his 10 rookies (tied for seventh in the Q) develop into a strong leadership group for the future as he builds a character, work-ethic driven roster.

It’s worth noting that the Mooseheads easily have the youngest defence corps in the Q with an average age of 17.42. Konrad Abeltshauser, Garrett Clarke, Steve Gillard and Sawyer Hannay, all 17, are showing signs of becoming an outstanding top four in a couple of seasons, if not sooner.

“I think it’s kinda neat,” Russell said. “Even though they’re young, they’re very talented and they’re a character group. They play with a lot of grit and determination and we have 17-year-old defencemen running our power play.

“At 18, they’ll be bigger, stronger, quicker, and at 19, we’ll have one of the best defences in the league.”

Russell was quick to point out the Herd could actually get younger next season. They might land the No. 1 pick in the draft and have five choices in the first three rounds. Trey Lewis and Matthew Boudreau, both 16, are waiting to step in.

The plan, if you read between the lines, is to contend in 2011-12.

“We target our team around 17-year-olds,” Russell said. “Next year, we’ll be younger, but we’ll be a better team.”

Rankings

Here’s where the Halifax Mooseheads rank in some key areas compared to the rest of the QMJHL:
• Youngest team — Seventh (17.83).
• Youngest defence corps — First (17.42).
• Most rookies — Tie, seventh (10).
• Most players 17 and younger — Tie, fifth (11).
• Tallest team — Fourth (72.41 inches).
• Heaviest team — Second (188 pounds).
• Fewest players from Quebec — First (six).
• Most Nova Scotians — Second (six).
• Most Maritimers — First (12).

– For a detailed statistical breakdown in each category, visit Matthew Wuest’s Q Files blog at www.metronews.ca/qfiles.

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