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Are the Pens leaning towards trading Letang? (Updated)

Jun 19, 2013, 11:27 AM EDT

Kris Letang AP

Kris Letang may have played his last game for the Pittsburgh Penguins, if a pair of reports from a couple of NHL insiders are accurate.

First up is ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, who believes the Norris Trophy finalist is seeking no less than $7 million a year in a contract extension.

Would the Penguins be able to afford that, given all the money they’ve already committed to star forwards Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal?

The Tribune-Review’s Rob Rossi doesn’t think so.

In fact, Rossi reports that Pens general manager Ray Shero is “fairly confident Letang has become a must-move player.”

That is true because Letang is not the consensus best defenseman on the Penguins, at least in the eyes of management and coaches.

That is true because the Penguins are deepest on defense among top prospects, including a couple of first-round picks from last summer (Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta).

Letang, 26, finished tied for the scoring lead among NHL defenseman in 2013, with 38 points in 35 games. But it’s fair to ask how much of his point production is tied to playing on a team loaded with dangerous forwards. Is he good enough defensively to command the money he’s reportedly going to be requesting?

Only four defensemen — Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Brian Campbell, and Drew Doughty — have a cap hit of $7 million or higher.

According to LeBrun, Shero and Letang’s agent, Kent Hughes, are set to meet today in Boston. So whatever ends up happening, we may know it sooner than later.

Update (1:50 p.m. ET)

  1. Kristenaux - Jun 19, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    He better not be going anywhere or I change allegiances. Letang and Malkin are the only two reasons I follow the Pens anymore…just being honest. Depending on where he goes I may not be watching nearly as much.

    • burgh916 - Jun 19, 2013 at 11:48 AM

      Well… That’s not being a very good fan my friend.
      You should realize when a not so great player is asking for a ridiculous salary on a cap strapped team, he will eventually end up going, for the organization it’s better to trade him and get what I’m assuming will be a pretty hefty return. Considering the league has a hard on for puck moving D men that are lost in their own end.

      • odj810 - Jun 19, 2013 at 12:18 PM

        spoken well. I just didn’t understand how people were clamoring this guy as the best d man in the leauge? He’s not the number 1 d man you build championship teams around and thats the money he is most likely seeking.

      • burgh916 - Jun 19, 2013 at 1:32 PM

        That’s the thing… I’ve noticed a lot of people (out of hockey as well.) just go by what the media says. I may be going off base with this, but as a Pens fan, it’s like hearing someone ooze about how great Fleury is. They’ll watch 5-10 games a year, and hear the media oogle over the guy, and form their opinion like that. Same goes for Letang, or for the ones that won’t admit when Malkin is playing bad.
        I have a lot more respect for people’s opinions who watch hockey on a regular basis, and for their own reasons like some of these guys a lot may not. But the ones that just throw on a game when they’re bored seem to be the loudest.

    • yougotgirouxed - Jun 19, 2013 at 11:52 AM

      SPOKEN LIKE A TRUE PENGUINS FAN

      • barkar942 - Jun 19, 2013 at 12:04 PM

        No. Spoken like a fan who understands the game and realizes what Letang and others (like DelZotto) are. Dead on, burgh916.

      • miketoasty - Jun 19, 2013 at 12:05 PM

        Sigh, you do realize he said he’s a Letang fan, not a Pens fan.

        But I guess reading comprehension isn’t a strong suit in Philadelphia now is it?

      • isithockeyseasonyet - Jun 19, 2013 at 12:06 PM

        Ahahahahahaha really? That’s bad even for a penguins fan

      • isithockeyseasonyet - Jun 19, 2013 at 12:11 PM

        He says ‘anymore’, which implies there was another reason he was a pens fan at some point, check your own comprehension before you come at someone else’s, moron

    • billyhauntswizards - Jun 19, 2013 at 1:09 PM

      eh just another bandwagoner no surprise there.

      • bakedbees - Jun 19, 2013 at 1:13 PM

        yup, typical pink hat mentality…probably likes his hair.

      • billyhauntswizards - Jun 19, 2013 at 4:32 PM

        who doesn’t like his hair? I know I do.

    • drone501 - Jun 19, 2013 at 4:31 PM

      well then so long, take a hike. your not a true penguin fan.

    • yinzer4life - Jun 21, 2013 at 2:02 PM

      We root for the name on the front of the sweater not the one on the back

  2. bigkniht37 - Jun 19, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    Letang is not even the top defender on his own team. It’s comical to think he is commanding the same salary as Weber or Suter, and wants more than Chara is earning. I think the series against the Bruins exposed him for the poor defensive defenseman he is and the Pens realize the return on him would be worth more than he would at $7M a year.

    • burgh916 - Jun 19, 2013 at 1:35 PM

      Spot on. As a fan of hockey, it bothers me to no end when franchise D-men like Weber, Suter, and Chara are getting their wallets swept aside by guys that collect points, whether it be a lot due to their linemates, or their team… But lack the actual title of DEFENSEman. Something along the lines of what the Norris Trophy has become as well.

    • esracerx46 - Jun 19, 2013 at 2:34 PM

      Sadly we live live in an age where DEFENSEman get paid for their offensive production even if they are a liability in their own end.

    • gm4602009 - Jun 19, 2013 at 9:06 PM

      wait a miinute…He is not a 7 mil man but not as much as Chara is earning? Chara is a tree with limited or no ability. Letang is not the top defender on his team you are correct. The other teams don’t want the guy for defence. They want his ability as a shooting defenceman and the the abiltiy to put the puck in the net. There are NOT that many defencemen that can do that! When was the last time you saw Chara walk in on a goatender or perform during a shootout in the regular season?

      • rosettast0ned - Jun 20, 2013 at 11:05 PM

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7OmPAidBJc
        Chara can’t walk in on a goaltender huh?

  3. myspaceyourface - Jun 19, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    Get something or you will get nothing in a year.

    I LOVE Letang, but he was responsible for most of the goals given up against the Bruins. He was pinching too much and not getting back offering up sweet break aways for the B’s.

    • burgh916 - Jun 19, 2013 at 1:37 PM

      Agreed. Letang may have been salvaged by a coaching change, let’s not forget Bylsma doesn’t seem like he rides these guys to change their undisciplined style. But, seeing they decided to give Dan an extension, they’re left no choice. (Salary cap issues aside.)

    • gm4602009 - Jun 19, 2013 at 9:11 PM

      100% agree, extend his contract or trade him before the draft.

  4. tfaltin - Jun 19, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    Streit signing in Philly really made the demand for Letang in a thin free agency year sky high. Pitt cannot and will not keep him. Best thing they can do is trade him. I’ll be interested to see what he does on a different roster and see if he misses the forward more, or the Pitt forwards miss his transition game more. I’d assume the Pens would trade him outside of their new conference so, Sharks or Avalanche?

    • jpelle82 - Jun 19, 2013 at 12:00 PM

      he needs to go somewhere with some cap room or shero wont get much in return for a 1 year rental. whoever takes him needs to be prepared to sign him for 7 mill a year or accept offer sheets. i would love to see a decent draft pick after we gave up our next two 1st rounders this past deadline.

      • chanceoffleury1 - Jun 19, 2013 at 3:36 PM

        I thought the Pens only gave up their 2013 pick in the Iggy trade? In 2014 they lost their second round pick, but as far as I know still have their first rounder.

      • jpelle82 - Jun 19, 2013 at 3:53 PM

        you’re right, my bad it was a 2nd for murray. they also gave up conditional 2nd in 2014 for murray too which all they needed to do was get past the 2nd round for the sharks to cash in on that too.

      • ray2013 - Jun 19, 2013 at 6:42 PM

        Edmonton has over $14 million in cap space and is extremely thin on the blueline. Letang may not be the #1 defenseman in Pittsburgh, but he definitely would be in Edmonton, and Letang would have some pretty decent young talent to play on the powerplay with.

        Add to that the Oilers are willing to trade their #7 pick for help this season, seems like a match to me. Not that I would advocate for this trade, or trading this year’s #1 for Letang. Just seems like something that MacTavish would be desperate enough to do, since he’s all about “making big moves”.

    • 19to77 - Jun 19, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      I like some version of Letang for Pavelski, with other parts from the Pens as needed to balance it out. Boyle’s 38 and Burns is a forward now so the Sharks are pretty light on offense from the back end. A skilled, smooth-skating puck-mover would fit nicely. Then again, Pavelski is probably not someone they’d be willing to deal. Versatile, do-it-all top-six guys like him are worth a lot, and he’s a core player for them.

  5. jpelle82 - Jun 19, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    like i’ve been saying…he needs to go….for all the reasons listed above. they cant afford him, he’s been less than stellar lately and the pens have drafted with the expectation of this happening. stick with your plan and get some assets in return. good luck kris.

  6. LampyB - Jun 19, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    Very interested to see where he goes…

  7. rushledger - Jun 19, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    Letang was a huge contributing factor to our demolishing loss to Boston, he pinch way to frequently and kept going back to the well even though it was dry. 7 mill doesn’t sound to me like even a slight home town discount whatsoever so I wouldn’t mind If left assuming we got a premium for him. Our d core needs a facelift, we could use a shut down pair for sure, I like Letang but he’s not worth 7 mill because despite being a great two defensemen he can’t really shut anyone down like a free doughty can.

  8. f2maestro - Jun 19, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    I don’t see how the Pens can afford him, especially if they want to retain Dupuis (or possibly Iginla – Although I would imagine this is a either or situation). Anyone who watched the Pens series noticed Letang contributing to large percentage of the Bruins goals in some fashion; Whether it be due to a bad pinch, a puck that eludes his stick/glove or a poorly executed breakout pass. I don’t blame the Boston series on Letang, but I do think he was one of the larger contributing factors to the Penguins early exit. That being said, I think both Letang and the Pens would benefit from a few fresh faces.

    On a side note; I hope Disco doesn’t look to Engo or Eaton to fill the hole Letang leaves; We all can see how much he loves a good fringe player. I hope Disco trusts the young talent already in the Pens system. There’s no reason Engo should have started over Depres in the playoffs, let along next year.

    I would expect Letang to be traded for a 1st Round Pick, Top 4 D-Man and (1 or 2) top 5 prospects.

    • hockey412 - Jun 19, 2013 at 1:19 PM

      I’d be interested to see if Shero can get that much – I guess it would depend on how high in the draft that pick is – I just don’t see them getting quite that much.

    • tbd3 - Jun 19, 2013 at 2:11 PM

      If that’s what you’re expecting, you’re going to be disappointed. Even with a light market on defensemen, I would be upset if a team I was a fan of gave up that much for Letang.

      Then again, Jay Feaster is an NHL GM, so maybe Shero can dupe someone.

  9. stakex - Jun 19, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    Letang is simply an over rated player. He’s not a good defensemen, and that was exposed long before the Boston series. His offensive skills are also open to serious question. Would he produce as much offense playing for a team that’s not “offense or bust” like the Pens are, or a team that expects him not to cheat in on almost every play like he does with the Pens? Probably not. His offensive numbers would probably be a lot less impressive playing for almost every other team.

    So given the Cap problems, there’s just no way he stays with the Pens. He is barely worth what they are paying him now, and they can’t afford what hes going to want. Thus since he has some trade value, he has to be moved. Letang of course will be the loser in all of this. He will never look as good for any other team as he does for the Pens… and that pipe dream of a $7 million a year deal will go up in smoke after a season with a team that expects him to, you know, play defense…. which he can’t.

    • f2maestro - Jun 19, 2013 at 12:20 PM

      If the Boston series doesn’t happen, are we really talking about how poor Letang’s defensive play is? I don’t think so. As a Penguins fan I’ve watched him play for quite some time and I’ve personally thought he’s solid on defense, especially in situations that allow him to utilize his skating to his advantage.

      Letang reminds me a lot of Malkin in that their both emotional players. When they get to their game, they are the best player in each of their zones; When they’re off their game they are liabilities in both ends of the ice. Letang (like Malkin) needs to find that common ground and stay on that common ground. If he does he’ll be worth every penny of 6.5-7m.

      • dropthepuckeh - Jun 19, 2013 at 1:16 PM

        The Bruins series did happen dude, four straight games of it. From the looks of it they would have won six straight too. What’s more, the rest of the league knows the same thing that the Bruins exposed. This guy is not a defenseman. I kind of wish the Penguins would pay that ridiculous amount because it would mean they would have to part with some other high end talent but Shero is a smart GM and I think he understands he has to trade this guy.

      • burgh916 - Jun 19, 2013 at 1:43 PM

        I agree with your post f2, but to “If the Boston series doesn’t happen, are we really talking about how poor Letang’s defensive play is?”

        To answer that, as spectators I think we would.
        However, by media standards, I highly doubt it. So there’s that. It definitely wouldn’t be getting the headline attention it’s getting because of the Boston series.
        Just a perspective of course.

        There has to be a change, there just has to. I still think Fleury may get traded, if not in the offseason, perhaps by the deadline, or next year. They may just ride it out with him, as upset as I’ll be, I’ve come to deal with his headcase ways.
        They decide to give Dan an extension, which in my opinion hurts guys like Malkin and Letang. Dan has let them get into some nasty habits. Ever since Neal/Malkin have gotten together, Malkin has been extremely careless with the puck in the offensive zone, the amount of no look passing is pretty bad, and Dan doesn’t seem to correct these things. Maybe with a short leash he will.
        Letang is the odd man out in all of this, we have plenty of replacements, a lot of potential there.

      • basedrum777 - Jun 22, 2013 at 4:29 PM

        Some team is going to be getting a great defensive player from Pittsburgh and hopefully Pitt gets enough in return to make it a good deal.

        The pens in my opinion need more stay at home defensemen who can augment their great offensive players. They dont need forwards playing defense. More Suter/weber, less Letang.

    • hockey412 - Jun 19, 2013 at 1:21 PM

      Actually I think you are WAY overboard in your criticism. He had a horrible series against Boston – and wasn’t looking good at other times these playoffs, I’ll agree. However, he has not proven to be a defensive liability at many other times, and I think you may be the only one to say his offensive ability is in question.

      I respect your opinion, but it’s really stupid.

  10. kingcobraman - Jun 19, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    7 million way to much as the cap is being lowered, anybody can be replaced or traded and the team moves ahead… easy trade bait as many teams in the west are looking for his style of play…

  11. danaking - Jun 19, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    The move makes sense and has precedent in Pittsburgh: Shero knew he couldn’t keep Jordan Staal last year, and cut a good deal for him. If Letang appears to price himself out of Pittsburgh, look for a similar trade, as a practical matter.

    (Yes, needing to move Staal involved more than money, but the underlying principle is the same.)

    • drone501 - Jun 19, 2013 at 4:39 PM

      i hope the pens get more for letang than what we got when jagr was traded to washington. i think is was three stiffs and a draft choice.

  12. channelguy - Jun 19, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    Letang may well be overrated, and not a very good defensive defenseman, but hes a lot better than Mark Streit, and he foolish contract Philly gave him — the years even more than the money — means that Letang IS a $7 million dollar player by the standard of the market today.

    Given that fact, and given that the cap limit is going down, I see no option but no trade him, or keep him for the year to enhance another shot at the cup, and see him walk at the end. The latter doesnt seem to be Shero’s way.

    But saying that what he wants is too much fails to recognize that a couple dopey GMs and the contracts they hand out messes things up for everyone else.

    • tbd3 - Jun 19, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      You think other GMs are letting the team that gave Ilya Bryzgalov a nine year, $51 million dollar deal dictate the market?

      • tampashot - Jun 19, 2013 at 2:56 PM

        The Lightning foolishly gave Matt Carle $5.5 million per year, so there are others willing to spend the money.

      • tcclark - Jun 20, 2013 at 12:15 AM

        I’m glad Lightning Fans see now that that was a terrible signing.

  13. sjsharks66 - Jun 19, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    Hopefully Wilson gives them a call. With Dan Boyle getting older the Sharks could use a young Offensive D man.

  14. buddysguys - Jun 19, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    god damn inflation……

  15. prosportswashington - Jun 19, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    In my opinion, even Suter, Weber and the rest don’t deserve their contracts. They kill your team’s cap hit and there’s no possible way to live up to a $100mil contract

  16. pdmjr - Jun 19, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    I wouldn’t pay any defenseman more that 5 million, outside of Bobby Orr or Paul Coffey

    • kingcobraman - Jun 19, 2013 at 2:44 PM

      wake up old man its 2013 not 1970 …hahaha…

  17. tampashot - Jun 19, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Perhaps Shero is looking to spend some of the cap space and the draft picks he can receive on Rask. The Bruins are only around $4.3 million under the cap with Rask, Khudobin, Horton, Ference, and Redden no longer under contract. If Shero can sign Rask to an offer sheet that the Bruins can’t match, they will have the ammo to pull it off and can then buy out Fleury’s deal.

    • burgh916 - Jun 19, 2013 at 3:21 PM

      Rask is playing out of his mind right now, I agree with that… But teams that jump the gun on a goalie that had a good playoff run tend to be in the wrong (for the most part.) I mean, look where we ended up with Fleury. Won a cup, signed a 5 year deal, and here we are.
      Let’s not forget Boston’s ENTIRE defensive corps is freakin’ incredible, they’re like a brick wall back there. It really is like a layer, if you do wind up getting by their D, Rask can make the key save.
      I’m just not too hot on jumping the gun on a goalie after a stellar playoff run. Given the team in front of him as well. (Still playing absolutely lights out however.)

      • tampashot - Jun 19, 2013 at 9:47 PM

        Wouldn’t you rather pay a guy who just had a Conn-Smyth-like run as opposed to a guy who has looked horrible in two consecutive playoff years and had to be benched in order for the team to survive the first round. Last year I thought Fleury’s issue was overwork, but what is the reason this year? He needs a sports psychologist or something. Leafs and Pens had numerous chances against Rask and he was simply better than they were. Fleury is due to make $5 million next season. Trade Letang, buyout Fleury and pay Rask $6.25 million and you save money.

      • burgh916 - Jun 19, 2013 at 11:21 PM

        Oh, I’m in no way supporting Fleury. I’m one of his biggest critics haha. I was actually pointing out how it was a bad idea to throw a big contract at the guy because we won a cup. Personally, I think a goalie is a couple years deal, and eventually build up over a long while. They’re so up and down that a long term contract really isn’t all that warranted, unless you’re Brodeur or Lundqvist at this rate.

  18. hazlydose - Jun 19, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    Trade Letang and get a solid top four affordable defenseman, a young forward. possibly a draft pick and try to sign Scuderi in free agency.

    • phillyphanatic77 - Jun 19, 2013 at 5:54 PM

      If I were shero I’d be talking to Edmonton. The Oilers were prepared to overpay Streit, so they would def give Letang the money he wants. They could offer up a package deal, something like (Paajarvi, David Musil, Nick Schultz, and a 2nd) in exchange for (Letang and a 4th). Paajarvi is young with a ton of upside, and he already has plenty of NHL experience. I think he’d look great next to Malkin. Then Nick Schultz, who has 1yr left at 3.5, could slide right into the Pens top-6 and provide a necessary defensive presence. While Musil is a solid prospect who projects as a shutdown type defender, and is close to NHL ready. Meanwhile the Oilers get their #1 defenseman, who could be the “Paul Coffey” of their developing nucleus. It’s expensive for the Oilers but defenders are the premium position right now.

      • ray2013 - Jun 19, 2013 at 6:45 PM

        I made a similar suggestion that the Oilers would be a natural trading partner for Letang, since the Oilers are desperate to make some moves, and have even stated a willingness to trade the #7 pick. I wouldn’t advocate trading the #7, but there’s a potential partner right there. Good comment.

  19. killerpgh - Jun 19, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    Every single player in the NHL is tradable if the price is right. It would suck, but as a Pens fan I would rather see the Pens trade him now and maybe struggle next year than lose him for nothing after next season. Even if the Penguins move Letang at this years draft and get they end up getting no current NHL ready player they are still a playoff team. And as long as you make the playoffs you have a chance.

    • tcclark - Jun 20, 2013 at 12:16 AM

      Ilya Bryzgalov?

  20. steelbloggin - Jun 19, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    I’m betting on the trade while his market is high, even in spite of the poor series against Boston. Other GM’s will overlook that series for the often sought after offensively skilled defenseman. Shero will get his done get a Top 4 D player, a high pick in this draft and some prospects as well. Dupuis will get resigned with the savings that they realize, and some of the current prospects will be playing a bigger role next year. Sucks that he’ll be leaving, but better to get on with it and move on. Who ever gets him will be better, and the Penguins will be better as well.

  21. malkinrulez - Jun 19, 2013 at 5:36 PM

    The long and short of it is Letang had to give a home team discount like Crosby and Malkin have done. I understand he can get $7 million from someone if he wants to stay he has to take less. I don’t harbor any will for chasing the money just wish he’d stay. For his occasional break downs he is a fun player to watch . If he does leave I’ll miss watching him play with the Pens . I refuse to slam Tanger , he goes all out every night.

  22. andyreidisfat - Jun 19, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    I must agree, letang was the problem in the bruins series. In fact he is the lone reason they lost ( now that there is trade rumors) it had nothing at all to do with the fact the team scored 2 goals. It had nothing to do with the 20 million dollar twins had umm zero points in the series. Yes it was all letang’s fault for “pinching in to much” … What the heck was this offensive defenseman that’s paid to score and collect points doing trying to make things happen while the flopsy twins take the series off.

  23. chrisk61 - Jun 19, 2013 at 9:56 PM

    it is funny how many of the pens fans above are blaming letang for the boston sweep. rask and boston D deserve most of the credit. then crosby and malkin for coming up so small. then whole pens team for scoring 2 goals. letang is a convenient scapegoat. in addition to funny, it is also stupid.

  24. chrisk61 - Jun 19, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    it is funny how many of the pens fans above are blaming letang for the boston sweep. rask and boston D deserve most of the credit. then crosby and malkin for coming up so small. then whole pens team for scoring 2 goals. letang is a convenient scapegoat. it is also stupid.

  25. chrisk61 - Jun 19, 2013 at 9:58 PM

    it is funny how many of the pens fans above are blaming letang for the boston sweep. rask and boston D deserve most of the credit. then crosby and malkin for coming up so small. then whole pens team for scoring 2 goals. letang is a convenient scapegoat. funny…and quite stupid.

  26. tcclark - Jun 20, 2013 at 12:18 AM

    Usually when a defenseman is available I would make a mention about Paul Holmgren and the Flyers going after him, but I can’t really see Letang “falling” into their laps…. see what I did there? Falling? ’cause he’s a diver. Get it?

    I’d be sick to my stomach if he wore a Flyers jersey.

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