Our good pal Danny Shirey (check out his Substack and consider supporting people who offer high-quality work) took up an interesting topic last week regarding Sidney Crosby and one last crack at a 100-point season.
Does Sidney Crosby have another 100-point season in the tank?— Danny Shirey (@DannyShireyPGH) August 23, 2023
I believe so.
But he'll need a few things to go his way for that to happen.
My latest for Breakdowns & Breakaways: https://t.co/mZmEGQQQ6n pic.twitter.com/wPnnrpaCWo
Interesting article and theory, and it’s agreeable enough that coming off a 93-point campaign and a power play boost that Crosby could find a few more points along the way to get back to triple digits. Then again, Crosby just played all 82 and still fell seven points short of 100 while having a very strong season. Is it even possible at this point given age?
With that in mind, check out where NHL.com stood:
Over/under 102??? That would be an easy decision and is laughable as an over/under bet.
(DraftKings, by the way, currently has matching -115 odds on either side for Crosby’s season point total at 90.5 in a much more reasonable outlook.)
The NHL website justified their sunny outlook with the following:
Reason for optimism: Crosby ranks second among active NHL players in career points per game (1.26) behind Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers (1.49) and second in goals (550) behind Alex Ovechkin (822) of the Washington Capitals. Crosby has six career 100-point seasons and should be considered in the first round of fantasy drafts again after the Penguins acquired defenseman Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks on Aug. 6.
NHL.com point projection: 102
All well and good, but a projection 102 isn’t just optimistic, it’s going a little off the deep end for the best of best case scenarios.
That said...could it happen? Not as an over/under jumping off point, but could Crosby hit triple digits again for his 19th season in the NHL at age-36?
There’s plenty of reasons why he wouldn’t: he could miss even a handful of games next year, or play through an injury that limits his effectiveness. Perhaps the Karlsson boost won’t offer that much of a change from what the output already is. Maybe at this age the 90-point plateau is the new 100 for Sid, to be celebrated as the accomplishment.
Then again, all it could take is a high-profile doubter. I keep thinking back to 2010 when Ryan Whitney told Max Talbot that Crosby could never score 50 goals in a season. Word of the bet and Whitney’s position got back to Crosby.
Even if you don’t remember this season or what happened next- you probably can guess how this story ends. Sid hit 51 goals that season, winning Talbot the bet. It was the only time in his career that Crosby reached that level of goal-scoring. And not that Ryan Whitney was 100% of the season Crosby got there, but it couldn’t have hurt to fuel the fire.
I find it foolish to compare any athlete’s mindset to the hyper-competitive Michael Jordan (here comes the “but..”), but...that type of response from Crosby always struck me as a Jordan-esque move to up one’s game and reach new levels of greatness out of spite and because someone dared to doubt them.
Bets aside, for Crosby to get back to 100+ points, a lot would have to go right. It would be historic, no 35+ year old player has broken the mark since Joe Sakic did it at age-37 in the wide-open 2006-07 season.
The good news for Crosby, is that overall goals are up in the NHL these days. If the league calls games tight, power plays could be a factor and a boost as well. It would probably require a ton of chances to get there.
Still, a run to 100 will have to be driven by a majority of production at even strength. In Crosby’s last 100 point season, 2018-19, he recorded 29 power play points. That’s only two more from the 27 PPP he had last season on the way to 93. While power play scoring is up, only five players in the league last year had 40+ points. The road to 100 goes through impressive production at regular, old 5-on-5 play.
Overall what Crosby will need for 100:
- Health: goes without saying
- A bit more from the power play: in his last three full-ish seasons he’s recorded: 28, 30, 29 points there. (The 29 was a 100-point year), but if he can boost that even to 35, that makes the journey to 100 look better
- Continued shooting success: Crosby shoots 14.5% over his career, but it was down to 12.9% last year. He’ll need to continue the output (last year’s 255 shots was his most in a season since 2016-17) but also hit the back of the net to get his third-straight 30+ goal season if he wants a shot at 100
- Linemate factors: As Danny touched upon, for solely looking at 100 points, Crosby would be best with Jake Guentzel and Rickard Rakell. Guentzel will need to hit the ground running after ankle surgery and chip in with ~35 goals and 40 assists to help that cause, Rakell will need to recreate a great season last year. Potentially working with Erik Karlsson and getting an offensive boost is another tantalizing possibility.