Player: Sidney Crosby
Born: August 7, 1987 (Age 34 season)
Height: 5’ 11”
Weight: 200 pounds
Hometown: Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada
Draft: 2005 NHL Draft, 1st Round (1st overall) by the Pittsburgh Penguins
2021-22 Statistics: 69 games played —31 goals, 53 assists, 84 points, 32 penalty minutes
Contract Status: Crosby has three years left on his current deal that will run through his age 37 season in 2024-25. The deal is worth $8.7 million against the salary cap. During his final media session, Crosby stated he plans to play out his current deal.
Fun facts: Crosby has recorded a point per game pace for 17 straight seasons. By far the longest active streak in the NHL and second longest in history, it only trails Wayne Gretzky who posted 19 straight such seasons.
History: No surprise here, but Sidney Crosby has rated high marks in our annual season reviews over the years. In 2018-19 he blew everyone away and received a majority A grade from readers. It was a slight step back to a majority B grade in 2019-20. Then a bounce back in 2020-21 with another A rating.
As with fellow line mates Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust, Crosby proved too much for the New York Rangers in their opening round series. Even missing a game plus recovering from a head shot, Crosby notched 10 points in his six games played against the Rangers. This was a huge bounce back for Crosby who struggled to find the score sheet in meetings with the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens over the previous three playoff seasons. Every time Crosby stepped on the ice, he looked like the best player and the Rangers had no answer for him or Guentzel and Rust.
Story of the Season
Wrist surgery and COVID forced Crosby out of the lineup for 12 of the Penguins first 13 games, but once those problems were in the past, Crosby only missed one of the remaining 69 contests. Recovery from the September wrist surgery pushed Crosby’s season debut to October 30th where a spell of COVID put him on the sidelines a second time.
Back for good on November 16th, Crosby was vintage Crosby and skating back on the top line alongside Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust. He registered the first of his 31 goals in a 6-0 drubbing of the Montreal Canadiens in Bell Center on November 18th and his first multi-point effort of the season the very next week against those same Canadiens.
It’s not surprise there was some rust for Crosby when he first returned to the lineup, but that was quickly dusted off and the captain was back to his old self in little time. Crosby recorded only two points in his first seven games, but was back to a point per game average by his 13th game played.
Other than the delayed start to the season for Crosby, it was more of the same, leading the Penguins scoring attack and making more history along the way. Crosby notched his 500th career goal against the Philadelphia Flyers on February 15th, along with playing his 1,100th NHL game and hitting the 1,400 point mark this season.
Using Crosby’s numbers from this season and projecting them out to a full 82 game slate has Crosby right on the brink of reaching 100 points (99.8 based on 1.2 PPG) and around 37 goals.
Regular season 5v5 advanced stats
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Ranking is out of 17 forwards on the team who qualified by playing a minimum of 150 minutes.
Corsi For%: 54.1% (7th)
Goals For%: 61.1% (3rd)
xGF%: 54.6% (7th)
Scoring Chance %: 56.6% (6th)
High Danger Scoring Chance%: 55.5% (8th)
5v5 on-ice shooting%: 8.4% (7th)
On-ice save%: 94.0% (3rd)
Goals/60: 0.86 (6th)
Assist/60: 1.37 (3rd)
Points/60: 2.23 (3rd)
These numbers reflect what we expect out of Crosby at this point. He’s a major driver of play and one of the Penguins best sources of scoring. Playing with guys like Guentzel and Rust certainly helps, but Crosby is and always has been a great analytics players which is no surprise given his overall career resume.
Besides a dip in defense there isn’t much changed for Crosby from this season compared to last. It was discussed in the Rust and Guentzel reviews how that top line was all gas and no brakes this season and that shows with Crosby as well, though #87 turned in a slightly better defensive showing. Just gives more credence to him being the best 200 foot player in the game right now and maybe ever.
Crosby just completed his age 34 season and still carries a market value of almost $14 million according to the fine folks at The Athletic. When we discuss other bargain contracts the Penguins signed in the past should we include Crosby in that conversation? Playing at his level on the contract he has may be one of the greatest deals going in sports.
Crosby is just so good at almost everything he does on the ice. That will not come as a shock to anyone reading this but it’s still pretty remarkable to see after 17 seasons. He might not be a 100 point player anymore but he does all the small things so well that he makes up for a decline in scoring. Also, having guys like Rust and Guentzel at your side surely helps.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 28, 2022
With this goal, Sidney Crosby takes sole possession of 25th place on the NHL’s all-time points list. pic.twitter.com/YMyOQ2aWQy
Clutch goals to tie the game? It's what Sidney Crosby does. pic.twitter.com/b5EPBCkmqC— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 9, 2022
Fun fact: In addition to hitting HUGE milestones, Sidney Crosby has also picked up 20 points (8G-12A) over his last 13 games. pic.twitter.com/8vD5xxcSEf— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 20, 2022
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN!— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 24, 2022
Sidney Crosby has recorded at least one point in 46 of 53 career games played against the Sabres. Crosby's 76 points (25G-51A) are the most he has tallied against any non-Metropolitan Division opponent. pic.twitter.com/1V6vhL249h
That's 30 goals for the captain!— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 23, 2022
Sidney Crosby joins Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr as the only players in franchise history to have 10 or more 30-goal campaigns with the team. pic.twitter.com/laVwqy5DLZ
Last night, Sidney Crosby became the 18th player in @NHL history to score his first 500 career goals with one franchise— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 16, 2022
Here's a look at everything you might have missed from Crosby's 500th goal: https://t.co/c6jip0VIRt pic.twitter.com/88BJfTwJqB
Sidney Crosby was Sidney Crosby and there wasn’t much any team could do to slow him down. It’s a tale as old as time at this point. He may not put up Connor McDavid numbers and his MVP winning days may be in the past, but this season just added more proof that Crosby remains one of the best player in the game at 34 years old. He does everything well at both ends of the ice and still elevates his teammates to another level.
It’s no secret Crosby is well into the back end of his career but he confirmed at his last press conference he plans to play at least three more seasons so we know he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. He’s showing no signs of slowing down and he can still take over games at the drop of a hat. The Rangers had no answer for him in the playoffs, and despite the loss, he was clearly the best player in that series.
Just more of the same is all the Penguins can ask for. A full season, or closer to it, in 2021-22 likely sees Crosby eclipse the 35 goal mark and go well over 90 points. It’s hard to ask for more out of someone who will be 35 years old the next time the Penguins play a meaningful hockey game, but at this point Crosby is winning the battle against Father Time and its foolish to think he’ll produce anything less than the level he showed this season.
Question to ponder
Can Crosby catch Mario?
Looking at the stats, it’s clear that Crosby has a real chance of surpassing Mario Lemeiux in every major offensive category in Penguins history. Crosby trails in goals by 173 (690 to 517), 141 in assists (1,033 to 892, this one seems almost inevitable), and overall points by 314 (1,723 to 1,409).
Nothing is guaranteed and at least two of those marks likely mean Crosby playing beyond the three years left on his current contract, but they are undoubtedly within reach for Crosby as his career winds down. Seeing him become the first Penguins players in history to record 700 goals is special to think about. Of course all of this is dependent on his health and continued ability to play at a high level, but given what we have seen in recent seasons, it’s fair to wonder if Crosby can pass his idol.
How would you grade Sidney Crosby’s 2021-22 season?