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Idle Spec: How many Cups will Crosby win?

You never know.
You never know.

Great as his talents are, I considered Sidney Crosby quite fortunate to get two Cup finals runs and one Cup ring in by such a young age. He's just 22, but he's already played five seasons and 62 playoff games. His team was a doormat his rookie year but went to the last two completed Cup finals.

The core of his team (for better or worse) is locked up for the next three-plus years in himself, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Marc-Andre Fleury. Those four guys plus Kris Letang and Brooks Orpik represent $33 million in cap space for the next three seasons. They may have just blown one of their better opportunities to get to another final -- what with the East being a general NHL backwater this season while all three seeds above them were knocked out in the first round.

So I ask you, dear reader: When his playing career is over, how many Stanley Cup rings do you think Crosby will have?

Wayne Gretzky (4 Cups) won four in the middle of his career, then never again. Mario Lemieux (2 Cups) won two in the middle of his 17-season career, then never again. It took Teemu Selanne (1 Cup) 16 seasons, two trades and two free agent signings to win a solitary one. Scott Niedermayer (4 Cups) won one in his third season, again five seasons later, then two more in three-season intervals after that.

Two interesting ones who won very young: Joe Nieuwendyk (3 Cups) won in his second full season with Calgary, then with Dallas 10 seasons later, then with a third team four seasons after that. But Jaromir Jagr won in his first two seasons with Pittsburgh -- then never came close again.

There are countless untold variables of course (salary cap, injury, league implosion), but I like the concept that you never know when the stars will align for you. The stars aligned early for Crosby; how many times will they align again?