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With Malkin signed, Shero wants to see where Letang stands

Jun 14, 2013, 9:03 AM EDT

Kris Letang AP

Through at least the 2017-18 campaign, the Pittsburgh Penguins offense will be led by Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and James Neal. That’s a superb collection of top-end talent, but they’ll cost Pittsburgh a combined $23.2 million in cap space.

With that much already committed to three players, can the Penguins comfortably afford another expensive, long-term contract? That’s the question they have to ask themselves as they set their sights on re-signing offensive defenseman Kris Letang.

“We’ll turn our attention to Kris over the next little bit and see where we are, have those conversations and see exactly if they’re in the same ballpark of what we’re thinking,” Penguins GM Ray Shero said, according to the team’s website. “Until we get to those discussions, I don’t know what his expectations are.

“Does he want to be here? Somewhere else? It’s hard for me to know what Kris’ intentions are until I get into some sort of discussions with his agent and Kris.”

Shero sees him as a key player that he wants to re-sign. The 26-year-old blueliner is a finalist for the 2013 Norris Trophy after recording 38 points in 35 games.

Letang is entering the final season of his four-year, $14 million deal. That price proved to be a steal and there’s speculation that Letang will seek at least $7 million annually. If the Penguins give him that kind of a deal, then nearly half of their cap hit, by the standards of the 2013-14 ceiling at least, will be consumed by just four players.

With that in mind, Shero isn’t ruling out any options, including the possibility of trading Letang.

“If we don’t have a deal by the draft, does that mean we’re trading him? I can’t speculate that. I don’t even know,” he said. “I don’t want to say a player can’t be traded or will never be traded. It’s hard to do that. We’re going to get to those discussion and see, make some decisions and maybe we get into July or August with Kris Letang on a one-year contract.

“He’s under contract for next year. He doesn’t have any clause in his contract for a no-move or block whatever we would try to do, or want to do. Having said that, I want to try and get to Kris and see exactly what they have in mind, and see whether or not that will work for us. Then we can make some decisions.”

  1. bruinsyea - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    I already read about this yesterday.. http://prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com/2013/06/13/so-what-do-the-penguins-do-with-letang/

    • micklethepickle - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:19 AM

      Haha, well said. Guess you can’t blame PHT, I mean there really isn’t anything else happening in the NHL right now.. oh, what’s that? The Stanley Cup Finals are happening right now?

      • jpelle82 - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:06 AM

        yeah but after only one game played and 3 days between game 2, these guys gotta write about something. how many horton is injured, great game 1, andrew shaw articles can you write? there’s a lot of interesting stuff still happening elsewhere

      • miketoasty - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:56 AM

        I didn’t realize that because the Stanley Cup finals were going on that all other hockey stories should be abandoned.

        You know what, you’re right. Who cares about a Norris candidate that could be possible trade bait going into the draft, it’s not like he’s important or anything.

      • micklethepickle - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:04 AM

        Just like the above commentator pointed out, this is far from the only article. In fact, in the last 2 days, there have been SIX articles about Letang/Malkin. SIX. Subban actually WON the Norris Trophy, Mike – how come we only got 1 article about him? C’mon, even Pens fans have to be getting bored reading the same tired old tripe day after day with no new information…

      • hockey412 - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:21 PM

        Eh, quit crying. There’s been two written today about horton’s shoulder, and quite frankly the news on Letang is big – when you think about the lack of free agent D-men out there. As I recall, Suter was a big story last year too. Problem with you guys is that you want EVERY article to be about Boston…and I gotta tell you, they’re about as fascinating to follow OFF the ice as they are to watch ON the ice. Everyone lay down in front of the net, boys….

      • micklethepickle - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:38 PM

        Not a Bruins fan at all – I live in Boston and could never root for a team that represents this dump. And what new information did this article offer that made it so imperative to have yet ANOTHER story about a team that got swept? I’m a Caps fan, and I think the 2 articles they’ve had about Oates in the last day are too much; hockey is still being played, let’s talk about the losers once the Cup’s been granted.

      • hockey412 - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:52 PM

        Afraid the hockey world isn’t waiting for you to get your bearings, though…and my only point is that people are actually reading these articles, there are deals being made, yada yada…so if there are Boston fans, or Caps fans, that just can’t keep up with it, no one cares. If you were to ONLY read the articles written about Boston and Chicago, no one would care. There have been plenty of articles about the final, there have been two days with no hockey and there’s plenty more to talk about. I already answered your question about makes it so imperitave (though I think that’s a bad description for ANY of these articles) in my first post. Deals being made, and not many Dmen out on the market. People care.

  2. dropthepuckeh - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    Letang doesn’t stand, he flops.

    • tcclark - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:38 PM

      You beat me to it. I would have used the word “dives” though. This is the NHL not the NBA

    • greenmtnboy31 - Jun 14, 2013 at 2:05 PM

      When Letang does stand, it is usually off to the side, by the face-off circle watching the guy he was defending go by him to the net with the puck.

  3. sergeikremlin - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    That’s a whole lot of quotes saying a whole lot of nothing. Obviously, Shero doesn’t want to tip his hand to anything until they get into negotiations and start hammering out some figures with the other side. I just do not believe the Pens will be giving up a puck-moving, Norris trophy candidate. They will find a way to make it work. Maybe James Neal is a guy who gets moved when push comes to shove. After all, his value is likely higher than it will ever be again after playing with Malkin.

    • hockey412 - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      I agree in some sense, except that when you look at it they still are hurting for wings, and the Pens have several good puck-moving D men on the way. Only question is if they are ready (which is probably a no). Despres is ready to step up, and can fill the shoes of Martin, if they want to move him. But I agree that it would be a noticeable loss, that’s for sure.

  4. hockey412 - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    I believe Colorado would be your first call, eh? As good as Shero is, I have nothing but faith in this whole thing working out either way.

  5. chanceoffleury1 - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    It’s simple: Letang is more replaceable so he needs to be the one that gets moved. That’s all that Shero needs to do: “Hey Malkin! You just decided to finish out the bulk of your career here in Pittsburgh. Hope you didn’t like your p.i.c., 40 goal scoring winger because we needed to keep the franchise defenseman that we also have 5 more of in the system coming up in the next 2 years.” Malkin’s style of play is a little harder to play with than Crosby’s is. He’s more of a loose cannon and will make crazy, risky passes that Crosby isn’t as inclined to make and it’s been difficult for the Pens to find wingers ready to take those passes and successfully play on Geno’s line the way James Neal has. Plus, with Dupuis and Iginla possibly leaving, are you really going to leave all the goal scoring duties to Chris Kunitz? James Neal has a role and he plays it well. He’s transformed into one of the better pure goal scorers within the entire league and he hasn’t even hit his stride yet. He’s only 25. The Pens already have guys to make the passes and rack up the assists. They even have Paul Martin to cover Letang’s duties for the next 2 years. They just don’t need him as much. It doesn’t mean he’s not a better or more valuable player than Neal, he’s just a more replaceable player within the system at the moment. If the Pens had 5 wingers lighting it up in the minors then James Neal and Kunitz would be on the block. But it just doesn’t make sense to keep Letang long term with the cap space he will inevitably take up.

    • laxman1944 - Jun 14, 2013 at 4:45 PM

      Well put Chance

      You just can’t pay them all

  6. joewilliesshnoz - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    Hope they find a way to keep Letang. Beau Bennett will be scoring goals for a long time for the Pens.

  7. rehmer2389 - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    I’m not a bruins fan but I find their games very fun to watch…old school hockey. Pittsburgh fans find it boring because there’s not enough flopping

  8. rehmer2389 - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    Or you could just call it “Crosbying”

    • greenmtnboy31 - Jun 14, 2013 at 2:06 PM

      The proper term is Marchmallow.

  9. hockeytowninhabitant - Jun 14, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    How on earth can u pens fans deny the obvious obsession NBC has with the penguins? Pittsburgh got swept and they’re still dominating NBC’s headlines

    • dchambers144 - Jun 14, 2013 at 3:02 PM

      You actually hit a funny point. Being a Pens fan, a lot of people in Pittsburgh feel NBC’s obsession is actually anti-Penguin. Pierre, Roenick, Milbury and others are viewed by Pens fans as taking a lot of unecessary shots against Crosby, Malkin, etc.

  10. buddysguys - Jun 14, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    Go Buy HIM Pegula!! Sooner or later overpaying guys will pay off and you might have a team one day!

  11. hockeyflow33 - Jun 14, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Seeing as how he is not really a solid defensive defenseman, and that’s what the team needs, it may be best to move on

  12. hockeydon10 - Jun 14, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    Seems easy.

    If they re-sign Letang, they’ll lose enough other pieces that they probably won’t be able to realistically compete for the Cup for the next 2-3 years, until the salary cap comes back up to bring in some talent.

    Having said that, I expect they’ll still be making the playoffs and as everyone knows, once they make the playoffs anything can happen. I just mean they’ll be losing some of their FAs and RFAs that were meshing with the other players.

    The other option, at least from what Pitt fans are saying, is that the Pens ahve a lot of d-men in their system that they can work with. To me this ends up being the same thing as signing Letang; 2-3 years where they don’t look like such a power-house, only this time it’s due to rookie players instead of salary cap considerations.

  13. nyrnashty - Jun 14, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    Let me guess they expect Letang not to ask at least 5-6 million per season? He’s swayze! 29 other teams better get their check books ready.

    • handsofsweed - Jun 14, 2013 at 7:56 PM

      Wait!! When did Letang die????

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