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Does Letang's contract mean Gonchar leaves Pens?

Mar 30, 2010, 10:59 AM EDT

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Gonchar.jpgPer TSN’s Bob McKenzie on Twitter, Kris Letang’s contract extension
is four years, at $3.5 million per year.

That’s about what you
would expect for a defenseman like Letang, who is still very young and
has the potential to develop into a very dangerous offensive weapon from
the blue line. As it is, he’s already a shutdown defenseman who
routinely takes on the opponent’s toughest lines.

What is
interesting about the contract is that it most likely means that the
Penguins will part ways with Sergei Gonchar this summer. Gonchar will be
36 next season, and unless he’s willing to take a serious pay cut –
say to $2.5 million a season — then it’s entirely possible the Penguins
go with younger and cheaper defensemen.

With Letang under
contract, the Penguins can re-sign Jordan Leopold to a decent contract,
and use some of their younger prospect defensemen, such as Deryk
Engelland and Ben Lovejoy, to round out the defensive pairs. Don’t
forget about Simon Despres either.

It’s going to be tight for a team that will be right against the
cap next season, especially considering they’ll need to sign four
forwards as well.

Was locking down Evgeni Malkin and Sidney
Crosby long-term really worth all this hustle and bustle to stay under
the cap?

Yeah, it was.

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