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 10, 2013, 4:21 PM EST
Former first-round pick on his way to Norfolk.
Dec 10, 2013, 3:02 PM EST
We’re about to find out.
Dec 10, 2013, 2:42 PM EST
A loaded Detroit roster gets… more loaded.
Dec 10, 2013, 2:15 PM EST
‘Hawks no like.
Dec 10, 2013, 1:53 PM EST
For the second time this season.
Dec 10, 2013, 1:40 PM EST
Chicago’s goalie depth about to be tested.
Dec 10, 2013, 1:36 PM EST
It really wasn’t.
Dec 10, 2013, 1:29 PM EST
Because he’s spent much of this season questioning his team.
Dec 10, 2013, 12:49 PM EST
When Nashville loses, it loses big.
Dec 10, 2013, 12:16 PM EST
It’s been a long journey for the former No. 6 overall pick.
Dec 10, 2013, 12:14 PM EST
Incident occurred on Sunday, against Boston’s Kevan Miller.
Dec 10, 2013, 12:11 PM EST
No goals in 18 games for the Sabres.
Dec 10, 2013, 11:47 AM EST
Facing a lengthy suspension.
Dec 10, 2013, 11:42 AM EST
Bad news, especially given his history.
Dec 10, 2013, 11:30 AM EST
He spent 16 years with and played over 600 games for the Flames.
Dec 10, 2013, 11:26 AM EST
That’s the stadium in the ‘Peg.
Dec 10, 2013, 9:58 AM EST
If he’s not available, the Bruins will need to call up a defenseman.
Dec 10, 2013, 9:16 AM EST
Playing at least one more season would likely make him Ottawa’s all-time games leader.
Dec 10, 2013, 8:47 AM EST
Both teams have struggled lately.
Dec 10, 2013, 8:00 AM EST
Tuesday’s collection of links.
- Neal admits kneeing Marchand was ‘not the smartest decision’ 56
- Leafs captain Phaneuf suspended two games for boarding 34
- Rangers confirm Staal suffered concussion 7
- Winnipeg to get outdoor game; Phoenix wants one 32
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head 156
- Report: Dion Phaneuf will face hearing for hit on Kevan Miller 102
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ 132
- Lecavalier out 3-4 weeks with non-displaced fracture in back 8
- Islanders players hold closed-door meeting after ninth straight loss 15
- Penguins’ Neal has phone hearing for knee on Bruins’ Marchand 90
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (182)
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head (156)
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ (133)
- Pens put Orpik on IR (132)
- Orpik suffers from concussion, including memory loss (112)