The Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated from the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers in Game 7 of their first-round matchup, and now the franchise is met with questions about what to do next in order to be more competitive.
That said, the team won't have to worry about captain Sidney Crosby hanging up his skates any time soon. He told reporters Tuesday that he plans to play in the NHL for at least three more years.
"Three, for sure—and then we'll see after that," Crosby said. "I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. Three, definitely. I'm glad [Evgeni Malkin] said three and [Kris Letang] said five-plus probably [smiles]. Not surprised at either of those answers."
Crosby has three more years on the 12-year, $104.4 million deal he signed with the Penguins before the 2013-14 season. He'll be 37 years old by the time his current contract ends and he'll turn 38 ahead of the 2025-26 campaign.
The 34-year-old has spent his entire 17-year career in Pittsburgh after being selected first overall by the Penguins in the 2005 draft. He has tallied 517 goals and 892 assists for 1,409 points in 1,108 games in that span.
Crosby has helped the Penguins win three Stanley Cups and has won numerous NHL awards, including the Art Ross, Ted Lindsay, Maurice Richard, Mark Messier, Conn Smythe and Hart Memorial Trophies.
But while Crosby is set to return for the next three years, the Penguins need to figure out the contracts of veterans Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, who were also members of the team's three Stanley Cup victories in 2009, 2016 and 2017.
Both Malkin and Letang will be unrestricted free agents this summer and their futures in Pittsburgh is up in the air. According to The Athletic's Rob Rossi, the Penguins offered both players three-year, $15 million contracts, and that "did not sit well" with Crosby as both players have been key contributors in the team's success over the years.
That said, the Penguins are projected to have $28,790,658 in cap space this summer, per ESPN's Kristen Shilton and Greg Wyshynski, and that's not going to be enough to re-sign Malkin, Letang and the team's other free agents, in addition to making some offseason upgrades through the free-agent market.
So, Pittsburgh's front office has some big decisions to make, and some of them might not favorable among the fan base.