June 23, 2024

The recent decision by the Pittsburgh Penguins to part ways with Jake Guentzel signals a period of retooling for the franchise and potentially foreshadows future moves. As the oldest team in the NHL by more than a year on average, the current Penguins roster is transitioning into a new phase.

The core players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and Erik Karlsson are all on the older side of 30, indicating that Pittsburgh may soon rely on Bryan Rust, Rickard Rakell, and Marcus Pettersson as key leaders. While these players are talented, the Penguins will likely need more significant changes to remain competitive in the Eastern Conference.

Sidney Crosby’s potential departure from the Pittsburgh Penguins, while difficult to envision, marks a disappointing turn for one of hockey’s greatest careers. Last season saw Pittsburgh miss the playoffs for the first time in Crosby’s tenure since his rookie year, and a similar outcome seems likely this year.

With just one year left on his current 12-year, $104.4 million contract after this season, Crosby faces the decision of whether to stay with the only team he’s ever played for or seek a fresh start elsewhere. Despite his frustration with the Penguins’ recent performance, Crosby’s character makes it unclear which direction he’s leaning.

In a recent segment of 32 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman empathizes with Crosby’s concerns about the team but emphasizes the importance for Pittsburgh to keep their franchise player. Friedman suggests that offering Crosby a three-year, $30 million contract could be enough to persuade him to stay with the Penguins.

Friedman’s suggestions oversimplify the complexities that have driven Sidney Crosby’s career. Even when he signed his lucrative contract with Pittsburgh in 2012, which paid him an average annual value (AAV) of $8.7 million, it was considered a bargain for the Penguins.

Crosby’s motivations have always been centered on winning, as evidenced by his three Stanley Cup championships, two Conn Smythe Trophy wins, and three Olympic Gold Medals. His competitiveness is unparalleled, and his primary concern is achieving success on the ice, something that Pittsburgh may struggle to deliver in the coming years.

It’s worth noting that of the top-10 highest point scorers in NHL history, only Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux, and Joe Sakic have remained with the same team throughout their careers. Many other generational players have moved teams without it tarnishing their legacies. Therefore, a potential move by Crosby should not be viewed as detrimental to his legacy.

While there’s a chance Pittsburgh could turn things around with strategic offseason moves, the organization seems to be heading towards a prolonged rebuilding phase. This might not align with Crosby’s desire to conclude his remarkable career on a winning note.

Insider reveals what it would take for Pens to keep Crosby

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