Erik Karlsson and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins

Erik Karlsson and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins


Erik Karlsson and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins

For the third time in as many seasons, the Pittsburgh Penguins will miss the postseason.

Following a dynastic run that saw the franchise win back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals in 2016 and 2017 after doing so in 2009, things have gone south for the only team captain Sidney Crosby has ever known.

Could that change as Crosby enters the final season of his contract with Pittsburgh next fall?

Appearing on NHL Network’s NHL Tonight show on Wednesday, March 27, host Jamison Coyle asked hockey broadcaster Steve Kouleas about what’s next for the Penguins and Crosby considering the situation the franchise finds itself in, to which Kouleas had a very straight answer.

“I think [Crosby] is gonna stay and I think he’s the only sacred cow,” Kouleas told Coyle. “Everything else is up for grabs.”

The Penguins have yet to start a true rebuild, but the writing might be on the wall following their latest moves ahead of this season’s trade deadline last March 8.

Back then, the Penguins moved on from franchise icon Jake Guentzel, trading him to the Carolina Hurricanes against his will, as documented by Heavy’s Emma Lingan.

Now, it might be time for the absolute legends of the franchise to say goodbye to the Penguins on their way out of Pittsburgh, according to Kouleas.

One man, however, is nearly assured to stay put in the steel city as has been the case for nearly 20 years after he entered the NHL as the 2005 No. 1 draft pick. And that man is three-time Stanley Cup Champion Crosby, whose estimated career earnings amount to $141-plus million according to CapFriendly.

Sidney Crosby Could Lead the New Generation of Penguins Hockey

In a recent mailbag published at The Athletic on March 20, Penguins beat reporter Josh Yohe answered a question submitted by a fan regarding the future of Crosby in Pittsburgh.

“Why not get Sid out of town at this point? It’s over, he saved them, gave them everything — why does he need to be around for the impending demise?” the fan asked Yohe.

According to Yohe, Crosby simply “wants to be around, impending disaster or not.” He went on to detail his answer, sharing his thoughts about where the franchise’s future is leading.

“The Penguins want to build something around young players,” Yohe wrote. “A few years from now, I believe Crosby would love nothing more than to lead a young group of Penguins on a special run, to show them the way before he walks away.”

If it’s up to Crosby, who is already 36 years old and will be playing at age 37 next season in the final year under contract with Pittsburgh, Yohe made it sound like he would opt to stay put for at least another year.

If Not Crosby, the Penguins Could Move Other Stars

Speaking on the same NHL Network show aired on March 26, co-host E.J. Hradek had an opinion to share about the Penguins’ plans for this upcoming summer, potentially leading to a rebuild of sorts.

“It’s gonna be really tough,” Hradek started. “This is going to be a tough one for (Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager) Kyle Dubas.

“Sidney Crosby–he’s going to make the call as to what he wants to do, right? He’s going to determine if he wants to stay and finish his career in Pittsburgh, or if he wants to go somewhere else.”

With Crosby out of the equation and in for the short-term future at the very least, Hradek discussed the rest of the Penguins operating under top-dollar contracts.

“As for the other people that are there, whether it’s (Kris) Letang, whether it’s (Evgeni) Malkin, whether it’s (Erik) Karlsson,” Hradek said, “these are decisions that are going to have to be made.

“We’ve seen great players end up in different places. So it’s gonna be tough stuff for Kyle Dubas.”

If Dubas decides to move on from any (or all) of the veterans mentioned by Hradek, he’d be in a position to truly create a new roster of Penguins looking to build a future as bright as the past of the franchise while still keeping Crosby in tow.

That said, it might take more than a little bit of tinkering and maneuvering to pull off that sort of retool on the fly.

That’s because Letang ($6.1 million), Malkin ($6.1 million), and Karlsson ($10 million) are under contract for at least two more years after this one while having deals of six-plus million each, per PuckPedia, that only a few franchises across the NHL could afford to land.

On top of that, the trio of superstars has no-movement clauses baked into their respective contracts, making a potential trade entirely dependent on their opinions.

Antonio Losada covers the NHL for A veteran sports writer based in Spain, Antonio has covered the NBA, NFL and soccer for over 10 years, with bylines at SB Nation, FanSided, Yahoo Sports, FanGraphs, RotoBaller and more. He has also been nominated for multiple FSWA awards, including Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and DFS Writer of the Year. More about Antonio Losada

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