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Letang (illness) to miss third straight, Pens ‘uncertain’ if it’s long-term

Feb 3, 2014, 12:02 PM EDT

Kris Letang Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins will be without defenseman Kris Letang for a third straight game tonight when they take on Ottawa, head coach Dan Bylsma confirmed.

Letang, 26, has been sidelined by illness for a week and hasn’t played since a 3-0 defeat of Buffalo last Monday. According to Bylsma, the team doesn’t know what’s plaguing last year’s Norris finalist, adding that Letang is currently undergoing tests and evaluations to figure it out.

What’s more, Bylsma said the Pens are uncertain about Letang’s issue being long-term.

This has been an extremely difficult season for Letang’s health. He missed nine games at the start of the year with a knee injury, then another 10 with what was believed to be an elbow issue.

All told, Letang has appeared in just 34 games for Pittsburgh this season, scoring 10 goals and 18 points.

 

 

  1. Stiller43 - Feb 3, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    Would ya trade this guy already?!!!

    • Tyler - Feb 3, 2014 at 1:17 PM

      Letang is a very enigmatic player. He’s the type of player that you live by, and die by.

      Even as someone who has supported the idea of trading Letang in the past, I don’t think the Penguins will deal the proven, for the unknown. Prospects do them no good at this point, and the way the team is set up, it has showed they can walk on thin ice with limited forward depth (both top 6 and bottom 6.

      He’s a right-handed shot, which is a bit harder to find. Next year, his new contract kicks in at $7.25m however the cap will be going up by $6.8m I believe. He’s also only 26 years old (will be 27 in April). The Penguins seem intent on keeping a particular core around as long as possible.

      When healthy, and on his game (keyword: ON his game), Letang is definitely the #1 dman for the Pens. The last few games have showed what he means to the team (ex: exiting the defensive zone, neutral zone transition).

      Shero would have to net a very handsome return to trade someone like Letang.

      • hockey412 - Feb 3, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        I agree with all of that…although I’ve actually been more supportive of KEEPING Letang in the past than I have now. He’s a great athlete, but needs to be far more careful with the puck in his own end, he’s the only Penguins D player that has more Giveaways than games (and I do realize that has a lot to do with his role in puck distribution and TOI, but it’s an obvious weakness when watching). This injury is a little odd, though – he’s injured a lot but this one sounds a little off. Hopefully it’s not something serious.

  2. penguins87and71 - Feb 3, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    If I were Ray Shero I would trade Kris Letang. He is a good dynamic player, but his a luxury for the Penguins. The Penguins already have a great pool of defensemen probably the deepest in the league they could afford to trade Letang. Trading Letang would be smart because, you could get a boat load for him in a trade, also it would free up the cap so the Penguins could be active in free agency.

  3. sjsharks66 - Feb 3, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    Yeah! Trade a player who was a Norris finalist last year because he is injured/sick this season. The fact that 30 teams would easily trade their first round picks for Letang is reason enough to keep him. Yes, the defense is deep in Pitt. What if Maata does not work out? What if Despres and Bortz is a bust also? How many times have we all seen a rookie player have an outstanding rookie season and then bust down the road?

    I don’t know. I think trading Letang would be a mistake.

  4. kastout11 - Feb 3, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    This is not the first season that Letang has missed significant time due to illness or injury. Personally, although an extremely talented player, I don’t think his value is as high as most think. He has proven to be injury prone.

  5. LampyB - Feb 3, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    He’s injured every single season bud, its not just this year. Concussions, knee problems, elbow, ankle. Hes a tough player made of glass. $7M needs to be reserved for the likes of Chara who never sits.

    • hockey412 - Feb 3, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      Maybe Chara would move faster if he sat once in a while.

    • killerpgh - Feb 3, 2014 at 4:59 PM

      Isn’t Chara skipping his teams last 2 games before the Olympic break?

  6. runhigh24 - Feb 3, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    People seem to forget that while the Pens are deep in defensive prospects that most of them are left handed shots. Trading a right handed defensemen in Letang would create a void that the current crop of prospects won’t necessarily fill.

    • hockey412 - Feb 3, 2014 at 2:03 PM

      I think Niskanen is the only other one, if I’m not mistaken.

      • runhigh24 - Feb 3, 2014 at 2:22 PM

        And he’s UFA after this year and certain to attract attention given the season he’s having. Bortuzzo is a righty and while I’m a fan of his there’s no guarantee he’ll be a reliable top 4 d-man let alone the top pairing guy Letang is now.

  7. sjsharks66 - Feb 3, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    Well if we use the injury argument. Malkin and Crosby both had long injuries. Should they have been traded? Beau has been injured almost all season. Why not let him go also? You guys are putting too much faith in rookies. Letang has proven to be one of, if not the top D man for the Pens when healthy.

    • penguins87and71 - Feb 3, 2014 at 2:52 PM

      You can’t always rely on veterans either. The Penguins are the 4th oldest team in the NHL right now. They need an influction of youth on the team. The Penguins played their best hockey when the rookies were playing and the veterans were injured. The formula you want the Penguins to go with hasn’t worked in the Playoffs since the 2009 season, so maybe it’s time to go in a different direction and get younger. Also what’s the point in paying a guy like Kris Letang if his going to be injured or sick all the time, his only played in 34 games this year! The Penguins don’t need Letang, they play better defensively when his out of the lineup. Don’t get me wrong his a dynamic player but his not the right type of player for this team, not when you have Crosby and Malkin.

  8. pitpenguinsrulez - Feb 3, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    What an overpaid bum!! Seriously when’s Letang gonna pull out his tampon and start playing?

  9. jpelle82 - Feb 3, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    maybe its the AIDS. he should start to put a bunch of the spare hundred dollar bills he has lying around in a blender and start injecting himself with them so he can live as long as magic johnson.

  10. killerpgh - Feb 3, 2014 at 5:20 PM

    I’m not against trading any player. Hell, Gretzky got traded. Any player should be available for the right price. The Penguins have a better defense with Letang on the roster, imo. Look past this season. Orpik is probably gone. Niskanen’s contract is up. Engelland’s contract is up. Martin’s contact is up after next season. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with Martin, Scuderi, Despres, Burtuzzo, Maata and another rookie next season. Even if you add Niskanen to those 5 it still doesn’t look like a winning d corps to me. The young defensive prospects have potential, but none are ready to play 20+ minutes a game against the other teams top 6 forwards and probably won’t be for 2 more years, if not later. Defenseman usually take longer to develop. Pouliot is projected to be better than Maata, but right now he is playing in Juniors because he isn’t ready yet.

  11. csilojohnson - Feb 3, 2014 at 5:25 PM

    Cant wait till the trade deadline so i can stop hearing, “Gretzky got traded”

  12. muckleflugga - Feb 3, 2014 at 9:43 PM

    not that it matters … in reference to gretzky’s move from edmonton …

    he was sold for cash and not traded

    when he and gretzky were informed, sather shoved pocklington and nearly threw a punch

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