After a shocking upset at the hands of the 12th-seeded Montreal Canadiens in the NHL's qualifying round, Sidney Crosby believes the window for the Pittsburgh Penguins' championship core may soon be closing.
"With age, it's a possibility," Crosby said, according to NHL.com's Wes Crosby. "But I can only speak personally. Obviously, I would've liked to stay a little bit healthier and play a full season."
He added: "It's a really hard one to evaluate. That's the honest truth as far as trying to break this all down. It's a tough one to evaluate overall."
The trio has struggled to stay healthy recently. Crosby played in 41 games during the 2019-20 season, while Malkin and Letang appeared in 55 and 61 contests, respectively.
However, head coach Mike Sullivan believes those three players still have years left in the tank.
"I think these guys are still elite players. I believe in this core," Sullivan said. "They're elite hockey players, and I still think there's elite play left in them. So, that's just what I believe. Obviously, at some point, everybody's window closes. ... But I strongly believe that this group has a lot of elite hockey (left)."
Letang echoed his coach's sentiment and said he believes Pittsburgh will contend in the near future.
"I think we still believe in the core group of this team," Letang said. "I think we have a lot left in the tank. We're going to keep playing hard and give everything for the Penguins. I think we have to be better. This year, we didn't play good enough to win, but I feel comfortable with the group of guys that we have."