Jun 13, 2013, 11:17 AM EST
On Thursday, the Penguins dropped $76 million to keep Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh until 2022, which made for an interesting situation.
With the majority of the club’s money locked up in core players like Sidney Crosby (12 years, $104.4 million), James Neal (six years, $30 million) and now Malkin, questions immediately abounded about how GM Ray Shero would retain the services of a number of key UFAs.
Specifically, Kris Letang.
The 26-year-old Norris nominee is heading into the final season of a four-year, $14 million deal, coming off a campaign in which he continued to produce as one of the NHL’s best offensive defensemen: 38 points in 35 games, tied with PK Subban for the league lead among blueliners (Subban had the advantage of playing seven more games, though).
Letang has essentially been a point-a-game producer over the last two seasons, and has carried that scoring rate into the postseason.
So…what do the Penguins do with him?
Shero’s already on record saying Letang won’t be going anywhere. But, at the same time, he admitted the Pens will have to undergo some restructuring.
“This team is going to change,” said Shero. “It happens every year with free agency, salary cap, trades. Change is sometimes good and sometimes hard.”
Pittsburgh also needs to know what Letang wants to be paid.
On that note, here’s Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Letang, 26, seeks at least a five-year contract with a full no-trade clause, though he prefers an eight-year term. He also wants a full no-movement clause. Compensation is trickier because Letang is the first in-his-prime defenseman set to hit the open market under the new labor deal.
The Penguins believe Letang will want at least $7 million annually and closer to or above $8 million.
And here’s TSN’s Bob McKenzie, who notes that negotiations between Shero and Letang’s agent, Kent Hughes, haven’t started yet:
Letang’s negotiations could be more complex. Letang wants to stay in PIT but is entering fourth year of a “bargain” deal at $3.5M.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 13, 2013
Weber/Suter deals have skewed high-end D market. Safe bet to assume Letang will be looking for at least double his current $3.5M salary.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 13, 2013
It seems the biggest question will be if Pittsburgh wants to pay Letang as its elite, No. 1 defenseman, making him the guy.
On the surface, that decision might seem like a no-brainer — he was nominated as one of the three best blueliners in the league — but Letang still struggles with the defensive side of the game and has a penchant for turnovers and questionable decisions.
In short, he’s far from the perfect all-around defenseman.
Pittsburgh also has future blueliners to consider. The club spent a pair of first-round picks in 2012 on defensemen Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta and a second-round pick in 2011 on Scott Harrington.
Simon Despres, the club’s first-round pick in 2009, looks as though he’s ready to become a full-time NHLer. And there’s also the veterans to consider — Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik — neither of whom is signed past 2015.
So…what would you do with Letang?
Dec 27, 2014, 9:53 AM EST
Los Angeles is in a delicate position after a pre-holiday slump.
Dec 27, 2014, 1:00 AM EST
Dec 27, 2014, 12:05 AM EST
No official word from New Jersey.
Dec 26, 2014, 10:49 PM EST
This was over early.
Dec 26, 2014, 10:00 PM EST
It’s hitting the fan for New Jersey.
Dec 26, 2014, 8:30 PM EST
Long-time play-by-play man Bob Cole also recognized.
Dec 26, 2014, 7:00 PM EST
Will be filling the spot vacated by the suspended John Scott.
Dec 26, 2014, 5:38 PM EST
Decent start for the Americans at the World Juniors.
Dec 26, 2014, 4:30 PM EST
New Jersey has three of the five oldest skaters in the NHL.
Dec 26, 2014, 3:30 PM EST
The Anaheim Ducks have been good — or is it lucky? — in one-goal games.
Dec 26, 2014, 2:30 PM EST
Connor McDavid headlines a loaded host side that hasn’t won gold since 2009.
Dec 26, 2014, 1:28 PM EST
Dec 26, 2014, 12:43 PM EST
New Jersey off to a disappointing 12-17-7 start. The coach pays the price.
Dec 26, 2014, 12:34 PM EST
Brandon Sutter cleared.
Dec 26, 2014, 11:59 AM EST
Put Matt Duchene on the list of supporters.
Dec 26, 2014, 11:17 AM EST
“That was something that wore on guys.”
Dec 26, 2014, 10:20 AM EST
He already grabbed the franchise’ assists mark in that category.
Dec 26, 2014, 9:39 AM EST
They picked him over Eric Comrie.
Dec 26, 2014, 8:31 AM EST
Boxing Day links.
- NHL on NBCSN: Sharks, Kings renew hostilities 0
- NHL on NBCSN: Can Capitals take advantage of depleted Penguins? 1
- Team Canada crushes Slovakia 10
- Criticism spreads to GM Lou Lamoriello after Devils fire DeBoer 7
- Eichel earns assist and scores in shootout as U.S. squeaks by Finland 2
- Canada enters World Juniors as 11/10 favorite; USA next at 9/4 5
- Devils fire DeBoer 21
- More mumps: Downie and Greiss test positive 7
- Orpik reflects on ‘outside pressure’ in Pittsburgh 21
- Canada tabs Fucale for WJC opener 0
- Sabres aren’t happy with league’s decision regarding Bartkowski (76)
- Report: NHL won’t hold hearing for Bartkowski hit (55)
- Video: Bartkowski delivers controversial hit to Gionta, fights Foligno (47)
- Could Malkin be the next player to be fined for diving? (43)
- Panthers hold off Penguins for shootout win (42)