Sidney Crosby’s Age is Affecting His Offensive Production

Crosby's Point/60 DataIn the above graph, generated from, we can see Sidney Crosby’s 5v5 Point Production throughout most of his career.  It seems to follow a fairly natural aging curve but what becomes a bit disconcerting, if you are a fan of Sidney Crosby or the Pittsburgh Penguins, is that in the current and last season his points per 60 minutes played have almost halved.

To the hockey analyst Sidney Crosby is just following the natural aging progression of forwards, most likely earlier than the casual fan would expect.  Let’s dig deeper into what this means.

Statistics on Age

One of the more well known studies on aging and scoring in forwards was conducted by ex-MIT Scientists and current Carolina Hurricanes Analyst Eric Tulsky.  In this study, using points-per-60 as a more reliable metric than points/game, Tulsky found that the average forward tends to peak around the age of 24 and they start to decline from there.

As coaches tend to trust older players, and experts in the NHL typically make correct decisions, we need to account for defensive play in forwards.  Tulsky analyzed this as well by reviewing the aging curves of shot attempt differentials for forwards.  While the shot attempt percentages seem to peak a bit later than scoring, the curve still follows the same trend.

A recent example of this decline in forwards comes from Rhys Jessop (@Thats_Offside) who demonstrated the decline in the once-elite Sedin twins.

Sidney Crosby

So what does this mean in terms of Sidney Crosby and the original point production chart we showed at the beginning?  Here is Crosby’s scoring data in all seasons, since 2007-08, at at 5v5.

Season Age Points/60 Rank Sh% PDO
07-08 20 3.28 1st 13.93 103.8
08-09 21 2.82 5th 13.99 102
09-10 22 3.36 4th 16.75 100.8
10-11 23 3.83 1st 19.23 104.2
11-12 24 4.85 1st 11.63 106.8
12-13 25 4.19 1st 13.95 107
13-14 26 2.54 12th 11.83 100.8
14-15 27 2.35 27th 10.53 100.4

We can see the rise and fall of Crosby’s point production through the prime of his career.  Given he is a top end talent it is expected he is going to sustain a higher than average PDO.  We see his points/60 increase until he is 24-25 and from there it appears to be declining.  His On-Ice PDO is normal while his individual shooting percentage is the lowest in his career.

What is most interesting is that his points per 60 have dropped nearly in half.   To put that decline into context, if you take the average scoring rate of a first line forward (2.16 points/60) and that player were to see their production drop in half (1.08 points/60) they would be producing at a rate compared to a replacement level forward.

Because Crosby is such an elite talent, even when his production has dropped in half he still is one of the leading scorers in the league.  While his PDO is playing a role in the drop of production, there doesn’t seem to be any other obvious reasons what else could be affecting him other than age.

Crosby usageLooking at his usage across the years, thanks to War-On-Ice, Crosby has been shifted back into a usage that should be increasing his scoring.  He’s starting more often in the offensive zone while playing against weaker competition.  Through the prime of his career he was being used more as a shut-down two-way forward and was still able to out-produce the current iteration of Crosby.

Despite the easier usage, and accounting for PDO, Crosby’s production has clearly dropped with the most likely reason being his age.  Health could be a factor as Crosby missed significant time due to a concussion.  It’s too bad he missed the prime years of his life having to sit out of the game.  Because Crosby has been such a top end talent it is going to take people a lot longer to notice and acknowledge his decline.  He is still better than most players, and will continue that way for a short while, but expect Crosby to decline as the effects of age are now starting to show.

17 thoughts on “Sidney Crosby’s Age is Affecting His Offensive Production”

  1. This is where the analytics go wrong. Crosby is coming off a significant wrist injury this year and the change in his game has not been skating, which is what falls off in age, but stick handling and shot power. Look at his face offs. His wrist hasn’t been 100% in a year. It has nothing to do with him being an ancient 27 year old.

  2. Sounds like it’s pretty unanimous. Dumbest Article on the net. Sid’s only 27. Backstrom is 27. Ovi’s 29. Backstrom is #2 in points at the moment. Ovi and Sid are tied for 5th. Ovi is ahead of Sid in goals and +/-.

    Maybe if Pittsburgh played hockey instead of trying to see who can get the most PIMs they could get Sid out on the ice more and get more points.

  3. or is it that all the NHL scoring is down due to the size of the goalie pads these days. The top point leader is not even gonna break 100 points. This is a big downfall for the NHL trying to win back fans. People want to see goals. Lets get back to the days of 99 and 66 and get people excited for our game again.

  4. Someone should remind this writer Sid MISSED 10 days due to the mumps! He would be well ahead of everyone in points if he was not sick, the way he is playing,he will end up with most points as usual,and that would be a amazing thing,missing 10 days and being the top scorer!!!!!

  5. You get paid to write articles like this? This is the dumbest shit I’ve ever read. The guy is 27 and at times the fastest player on the ice. Maybe his production is down due to inconsistency within the lineup. Pens have had a boatload of injuries or maybe the concussions he’s had made a difference. I’m not sure either way but I know the guy isn’t getting old. For crying out loud Jagr is like 90 and still playing. I just lowered my IQ by reading this. Thanks pal

  6. He hasn’t been scoring at his normal pace, but he still leads the league in PPG and I wouldn’t be surprised if he came back to win the Art Ross again. His line mates have been inconsistent and the PP has been awful lately, not to mention they are on pace to have the least amount of PPs in team history. Sid is just fine. Did you watch him last night. He’s a bit snake bitten in the goal department is all.

  7. This shit is so stupid.. Scoring continues to go down each year.. Plus factor in games played, injury, deep runs into playoffs, supporting cast etc and there ya go.. Yea he is “declining” but the league scoring is as well.. These “fancy” stats tell part of the story.. This is not a stop and start game or a 1v1 matchup like say, baseball.. Do teams with best Corsi or Fenwick or whatever other made up figures you wish to use win the Cup every year? No.. the LA Kings are fancy stat darlings and battling for their playoff lives. I do conceded they play a role in evaluating talent for GMs when signing players to longer term, and coaches playing matches, but the game is free flowing and the basis on which these numbers are retrieved need some tweaking.. Hockey is not a game where its players can be judged on numbers alone, there is a deep will to win, desire, heart, and effort which are not easily, if at all able to be computed.. You see so many times 3rd and 4th line players come up huge in decisive playoff games and series, who have horrible “fancy” stat numbers… Just my 2 cents

  8. He’s 27. He isn’t old. I’ll bet you if he stays healthy he leads the NHL in scoring next season (and may still come back to lead it this season). He has a new coach and they are in a new system. He isn’t in “the decline”. Even Running Backs in the NFL don’t decline usually until closer to 30.

  9. i don’t see a lot of pens games but the few i do see it is obvious he has, for whatever reason, slowed down. sometimes things are more evident when you don’t see a player on a consistent basis but he’s not the 18 year old phenom anymore. it would be irrational if anyone thought he would be the same player at 28 that he was at 18 or even 25. how many modern day players put up 100 point seasons after the age of 26-27? those of you who whine that it’s because of his concussions and injuries show me a player that hasn’t suffered some kind of major injury. rick nash is having a re-birth this year but as a rangers fan i would be fooling myself to expect him to have the kind of year he’s having next year or the year after. it’s just how it is. a player hits a peak and then starts to decline. sid is beginning his decline, face it. he may still be better than 90% of the league but his decline is so evident.

    • Locutus, I will admit I am a Pens fan and watch them play nearly 75 times a year.. He is not slowing down in terms of speed, he is often times the quickest player on the ice, regardless of opposition. Teams are devoting 1 and often times 2 players to shadow him and contain his brilliance.. Sure he has off games where he is frustrated and doesn’t make the best decisions with the puck, but i can assure you that the kid has plenty of jump left in him

  10. As a Pens fan, the fact that Crosby missed so much time due to injury in his prime years is quite sad. Although, Sid isn’t the first elite player in Pens history to miss a significant amount of time during his prime years, as it happened to 66 as well. Very good, albeit unnerving read.

  11. age? I think past concussions and currently playing injured and requiring injections has a lot more to do with it. Statistics can be skewed any which way a person wants. Sid is a solid player who will rebound as his wrist issue is corrected.

  12. I’d argue that the play style of the league has done more to hamper scoring than the 27 years of life have to Crosby.

    Scoring is down around the league there boss, he isn’t the only one struggling. We may have a scoring title go to someone with 82 pts……….they all must be old though

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