When the 2020-21 NHL season begins a few key members of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization will have a chance to reach some pretty significant career milestones.
We love nice round numbers in sports, and Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, and Kris Letang are all closing in on some important ones for themselves.
Let’s take a quick look!
Sidney Crosby — 1,000 games
Here is a fun fact: No player in Penguins history has ever played 1,000 games for the franchise. Sidney Crosby is 16 games away from becoming the first. He is already the the team’s all-time leader in games played and will only add to that total.
Sidney Crosby — 500 goals
There is always the “what if” aspect of Crosby’s career and what his totals would look like had he not missed so much of his prime years due to injury and a lockout. He would probably already be closing in on 600 career goals. As it stands, he is just now starting to close in on 500 goals, a milestone he could reach this season with 38 goals. This one might be asking a lot. Not only would the NHL need an 82-game season for Crosby to have enough games to reach that number, but he would also need to have his best goal-scoring season in four years and one of the best of his career. Keep in mind, he has only scored 38 goals three times in his career (though injuries have played a role in that. He has been on pace for at least that many goals several times). He would be just the second player to score 500 goals with the team, trailing only, of course, Mario Lemieux.
Evgeni Malkin — 700 assists
After topping the 1,000 point mark two seasons ago, Malkin has a chance to reach another nice round number as he closes in on 700 career assists. He enters the season needing just 40 assists to reach that mark, and this one seems very much within reach. For his career he averages 59 assists per 82 games played, and has recorded at least 40 assists in each of the past three seasons even though he has played in only 78, 68, and 55 games in those seasons respectively. The year before that he recorded 39 assists in only 62 games.
Jake Guentzel — 100 goals
The best goal-scoring winger on the team is just two goals away from 100 for his career. He would have already leaped over that milestone a year ago had it not been the injury that sidelined him for the second half of the regular season. Given his age, current career trajectory, goal scoring ability, and likely linemates for the foreseeable future he has a real shot at 300 goals for his career.
Bryan Rust — 100 goals
It would require another big season, but Rust will enter the 2020-21 season 22 goals away from hitting triple digits for his career. If you would have told me five years ago that Rust would still be a key part of this roster and closing in on 100 careers in 2020 I am not sure I would have believed you. What a career he has put together for himself.
Kris Letang — 600 points
Letang hit a bunch of milestones during the 2019-20 season by appearing in his 800th game, recording his 400th assist, and topping 500 points. He could reach another one this season as he closes in on 600 points. Letang enters the year 63 points away from that mark. This is going to be a tough one to reach, though, because he has only topped 63 points once in his career, mostly because injuries have cut so many of his seasons short. He has scored at that sort of pace several times. He would need a healthy season and a full schedule to reach it. He is already the franchise’s all-time leader in points among defensemen and is one of only two defenders to top the 400-point mark with the team, joining Paul Coffey.