May 14, 2014, 12:52 PM EDT
This isn’t to say the Pittsburgh Penguins should trade Kris Letang. Let’s get that clear right off the bat. It all depends on the return. Letang may not be the best defensive defenseman in the game, and of course he’s had some serious health issues that may make potential trade partners wary. But he still logs almost 25 minutes a night, and since 2010-11, only Erik Karlsson has averaged more points per game among regular NHL blue-liners.
Which is to say, if the Pens do trade Letang, they better have a plan to replace him, both in the short- and long-term. We imagine re-signing Matt Niskanen would be part of that plan, and extending Paul Martin for a few more years might be a good idea as well. Oh, and they’d probably have to get a decent d-man back in the trade.
So if all that has to happen and it’s such a big risk, why explore dealing him in the first place? Well, for starters, as we wrote just last week, there’s a real demand around the NHL for right-handed d-men who can play regular minutes and help a team’s power play. Would Detroit be interested? You can bet Ken Holland would at least answer Ray Shero’s call.
Letang, 27, is also about to start an eight-year, $58 million contract, which comes with a cap hit of $7.25 million. Only Shea Weber and Ryan Suter have higher hits among NHL d-men. And remember, the Penguins already have two of the three highest cap hits in the league, with Sidney Crosby ($8.7 million) and Evgeni Malkin ($9.5 million) also on the books. Bottom line: having three of the league’s top 16 cap hits presents a challenge when it comes to improving the rest of the team, and teams that lack depth don’t win Stanley Cups.
Finally, let’s not forget Olli Maatta, 19, and Derrick Pouliot, 20, a pair of blue-chip youngsters from the 2012 draft. The former is already with the Pens; the latter was recently named the WHL’s top defenseman. If all goes well, both will be excellent NHLers. Again, if all goes well. No guarantees.
Aug 23, 2014, 2:07 PM EDT
After solid 2012-13 season, the Ottawa native struggled last season.
Aug 23, 2014, 1:03 PM EDT
New-look first line has big shoes to fill.
Aug 23, 2014, 12:01 PM EDT
Appears close to 100 percent healthy.
Aug 23, 2014, 11:01 AM EDT
Signs minor league deal with Bridgeport.
Aug 23, 2014, 10:02 AM EDT
Could be the Sens’ future starter with Craig Anderson set to become an unrestricted free agent.
Aug 23, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
For once, no rehab and no new head coach.
Aug 23, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
The post-Spezza era begins.
Aug 22, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
The dynasty-era is well-represented in voting, as expected.
Aug 22, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
The slogan is “Tradition on Ice.”
Aug 22, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
Not exactly blasting his former employers.
Aug 22, 2014, 7:14 PM EDT
The TMNT pajamas really put it over the top.
Aug 22, 2014, 5:44 PM EDT
“We’re waiting for somebody now to step forward and take charge of this team.”
Aug 22, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT
Despite missing 11 games, he set many career-high numbers.
Aug 22, 2014, 3:01 PM EDT
Spent the summer relocating his family to the Manitoba capital.
Aug 22, 2014, 2:05 PM EDT
Speculation on MLSE President & CEO’s next move.
Aug 22, 2014, 1:32 PM EDT
Disappointed with demotion last season, 20-year-old will get another shot in September.
Aug 22, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT
Has to get his team on the winning track.
Aug 22, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT
Helps friend raise awareness at charity event.
Aug 22, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT
Excess of defensemen has GM Peter Chiarelli in a bind.
Aug 22, 2014, 10:05 AM EDT
At 23 years old, he’s one of the best players in the NHL.
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