Sidney Crosby is off to an incredible start this season. The Penguins captain has 12 goals and 22 points in the first 17 games of the season, putting him on an early pace of 58 goals and 106 points. His 5v5 production and rates are almost literally off the charts. He’s only been held without a point in two games all season. It’s nothing new, but Crosby is doing it all (well, besides score on the power play, but that’s a different topic for a different day).
The amazing thing is, this isn’t 2017 or 2014 or even 2017, Crosby is still doing these things in 2023 at the age of 36. If he keeps going, he’ll be into unprecedented territory for his age.
From QuantHockey.com, here’s a look at the best seasons of all-time for players at age-36.
Those are some heavy hitters, and the Pens don’t have to go too far to remember last season when Evgeni Malkin had a quality year at an advanced age for the tied-sixth best age-36 season at 83 points.
Crosby could be on track for even higher; Alex Ovechkin holds the mark for most goals at age-36 (50), and Crosby still has a long way to go for his first 50+ goal season since 2009-10, but with the way he’s playing and shooting the puck, would you be that confidence to say he could do it? I wouldn’t.
Beyond the individual marks, surely the year Teemu Selanne had in 2006-07 is the type of season that Crosby aspires towards. (As a sidenote, it’s a mind melt that Crosby is as old right now as Selanne was in 2007 or that Gretzky was in 1998, isn’t it? Ol’ Wayner only played one more season after the one highlighted above, so let that sink in...)
Speaking of that - Mario Lemieux at age 36 was his 2001-02 season, playing just 24 NHL games while recording 31 points. That was a tough year, the magic of his comeback had worn off, Jaromir Jagr was gone and Lemieux’s hip wasn’t in great shape. From afar, it seemed the most important thing for Mario was to keep his health on the rails into the 2002 Olympics, which he got to and helped lead Canada to a gold medal. (Lemieux would have one truly more magical NHL season at age-37 in the year ahead). But it’s also wild to think Crosby today is the same age as that beat up and weathered-looking version of Lemieux, considering how much gas in the tank it looks like Crosby has these days.
Anyways, back from the longest tangent ever and to the point from a few paragraphs above — Selanne was awesome for the Ducks in 2006-07, leading them in scoring while putting up the most points ever as a 36-year old (or tied with Jean Ratelle from way back in the day, anyways) and helping Anaheim to win the Stanley Cup. Selanne would also go onto play seven more NHL seasons after that one, which I’m not so sure is in the cards for Sid, but hey — sign me up.
The list above shows it’s nothing new for older players at age 36 to put up 75-85ish points, but with the start Crosby has had this year he might be able to re-set the bar for them all.