Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 06/19/13 at 12:02 PM ET
I never know what to make of the Pittsburgh Penguins press's, "Penguins must move core player X to make room for Malkin/Crosby" chatter as it's practically a rite of late spring and early summer, but TSN's Insider Trading gents suggested that Penguins defenseman Kris Letang may be on the move if he doesn't agree to a reasonable contract extension, and, via the Score, the Pittsbrugh Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi suggests that Letang is all but on the trading block:
Discussion with Dupuis' agent, Allan Walsh, started this week. Letang's agent, Kent Hughes, had yet to hear from Shero as of Tuesday.
That is no accident. 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).
That is true even though terms of Malkin's new contract will provide the Penguins with more cap room to keep good players around him and Crosby — if the cap increases annually under this labor contract, as it did during the last one.
The Penguins are set up for Letang to count around $6 million against the cap and to continue paying Crosby ($8.7 million), Malkin ($9.5 million), right winger James Neal, Martin and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury ($5 million apiece). Evidence of that was their offer to Staal, who would have counted about $5.75 million annually against the cap had he stayed — and that was with Letang taking up $3.5 million in space.
Letang, 26, a first-time Norris Trophy (top defenseman) finalist, aims to at least double his current salary on any new deal. He was the only NHL defenseman to average a point per game during the regular season. He is in his prime.
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