Reports surfaced this past week that the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby could be closing in on a new contract extension that will allow the captain to finish his career with the only team he has ever known. Given Crosby’s importance to the organization and the city, as well as the fact he is still one of the league’s best and most productive players, that is only good news for the Penguins and their fans.

But given that Crosby is going to be 37 years old when the 2024-25 season begins it is worth asking — and wondering — what the rest of his career could look like from a production standpoint. After all, even the great ones hit a wall at some point and start to slow down, and nobody is ever immune from that.

The good news — NHL history indicates that Crosby should still have some very productive years ahead of him.

Let’s just assume that Crosby’s new contract is in the neighborhood of three years, which would cover his age 37 (current contract), 38, 39 and 40 seasons in the NHL. What sort of production would be a reasonable expectation for him over those seasons?

Well, let’s take a look.

I dug through the Hockey-Reference stathead database and looked into the average production for forwards (minimum 40 games played in each season) over those ages in the NHL.

The average goals per game and points per game numbers were as follows:

What I find most fascinating about those numbers is how the production actually INCREASES instead of decreases with each additional year.

The reason for that, I assume, is that for each additional year there are fewer and fewer players that are able to hang around in the NHL that long, and that if they are able to do so it probably means they are are high level players and are still capable of producing at a higher rate. Worse players and players that are losing production are going to naturally bow out of the league and retire. You are only playing until 40 if you are still really, really good.

Having said that, these are just average levels of production.

Crosby is not an average player, and his level of production, even through a decline, is going to look a lot different than your run-of-the-mill NHL player. He is starting from a significantly higher point, and even as he declines he is going to outproduce most players at the same age. He was a 40-goal, 94-point player in his age 36 season, for example. Almost nobody is doing that in NHL history.

In addressing that, I put in a different set of criteria to find players that were producing at a similar level as Crosby through his most recent ages.

I look for forwards that averaged more than 1.10 points per game over the age 34-36 seasons (as Crosby did). I found eight players that matched that criteria and that also played in the beyond their age 37 season.

That list: Gordie Howe, Johnny Bucyk, Jean Ratelle, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Teemu Selanne, Daniel Alfredsson and Martin St. Louis.

Below is their yearly point totals by age for each of their following seasons.

Every single player on the list had at least 60 points in their age 37 season with the lone exception of Selanne, who had 23 points …. in only 26 games. That is a 72-point pace over 82 games.

St. Louis’ 60-point season came in a lockout shortened, 48-game season and resulted in him winning the scoring title that season. That is a 102.5-point pace over 82 games.

The only player that did not perform at at least a 70-point pace over 82 games was Messier. And even he was still at 60 points.

Getting into the age 38 seasons, which would be the first year of a potential Crosby extension, everybody there is still performing at an exceptionally high rate given the age. Five of the eight players are, again, over 60 points, and Selanne would have been a sixth had he played in more games.

Basically, given Crosby’s current level of production, as well as the similar progression of similarly great players at the same age, I do not think there is any reason to expect Crosby to perform at anything less than a 70-point pace per season through the remainder of his career and through a new contract extension.

He is still going to be the best player on the team, he is still going to be a top-line scorer, and even if he eventually runs into a point where he is no longer an 80-or 90-point player, he is still probably going to be worth whatever his new contract pays him.