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Crosby chasing Gretzky, Lemieux as game's greatest offensive catalyst

| Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, 11:27 p.m.

Sidney Crosby attained a pair of career milestones recently, tallying his 250th career goal and 450th career assist to push past the 700-point mark. The NHL points leader is the sixth player in franchise history to score at least 250 goals, joining Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Jean Pronovost, Rick Kehoe and Kevin Stevens. The 450-assist, 700-point clubs are more exclusive; Lemieux, Jagr and Crosby are the only Pens members.

Crosby's ascent on the NHL's leaderboards has been slowed only by injuries. Among active skaters, he needed the fewest games played to notch 700 career points. Crosby's primary competition for the title of the NHL's top player, Alex Ovechkin, played the equivalent of another full season before reaching 700.

700 Club

Fewest games played to reach 700 points among active players

Player Team Games

Sidney Crosby Penguins 497

Teemu Selanne Jets/Ducks 531

Jaromir Jagr Penguins 557

Alex Ovechkin Capitals 579

Dany Heatley Thrashers/Senators/Sharks 685

Source: Hockey-Reference.com

As of age 26, Crosby has the fifth-most points per game (1.41) in NHL history, trailing just Wayne Gretzky, Lemieux, Mike Bossy and Jari Kurri. That sells Crosby's offensive prowess short. The Pens' captain has played during a much less scoring-happy era (teams have registered an average of 7.58 points per game from 2005-06 to the present) than Bossy (9.7 team points per game) and Kurri (10.3).

Once you adjust for league-wide scoring levels, Crosby ranks as the third-best offensive player at this stage of his career.

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Highest OPS per Game as of age 26

Player Years OPS/Game

Wayne Gretzky 1980-87 .191

Mario Lemieux 1985-1992 .162

Sidney Crosby 2006-2014 .142

Bobby Orr 1967-1975 .139

Alex Ovechkin 2006-12 .137

David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.

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