by Tony on 06/28/13 at 08:49 AM ET
One schmuck's opinion: Kris Letang is a very good NHL defenseman. Kris Letang is an outstanding offensive NHL defenseman.
But if Letang were reading this column, I'd have to say this right away: Those media reports stating Penguins' management feel Paul Martin, and not you, was the best Pens' defenseman this season?
They're right, bro.
It appears we're getting closer and closer to the culmination of either a re-signing with Pittsburgh, or what's becoming an annual ritual for GM Ray Shero, that being a draft day trade.
And honestly, I'm torn about it.
Reportedly, Letang and his agent have turned down an 8-year, $56 million contract to remain with the Penguins. That in itself raised eyebrows all around the NHL and it's fans.
It's not "stupid", as I've read on Twitterland. Let's face it, boy's gonna get paid, whether it's in Pittsburgh or elsewhere.
And let's be realistic, even though the Pens have offered Letang what's described as a smidge over $7 million a year, eventually, someone's gonna overpay for his services, you just know it. Letang's services on the open market would almost certainly garner him $8 million per year, probably more.
If you don't watch Letang every night, more times than not you probably see the flashes of brilliance, particularly offensively. Weaving through the defense, giving Pens fans memories of Paul Coffey.
But there are also quite valid occurrences where Letang defensively makes horrendous mistakes, whether that be with poor breakout passes resulting in turnovers/goals, errors in positioning, or simply mental mistakes. That coming from someone who's definitely not a Letang-hater in yours truly, that's simply objective criticism.
But, but, he's a Norris Trophy candidate! OK, sure. But is that a result of actually being one of the NHL's best defensemen, or is that rather that the Norris Trophy itself has recently morphed into the NHL's best offensive defensemen?
So, I'm torn.
If I had a gun to my head, I'd say GMRS trades Letang prior to the draft. A Letang trade at the draft would most assuredly get Shero that #1 pick back that he gave away in the Jarome Iginla trade. It would also probably get back a good young (and cheap) defenseman (Jake Gardiner would look good in Black & Gold, eh?) and a top prospect.
But I'm also torn even if the Pens sign Letang long-term. That would be one seriously top-heavy cap. What i don't want to see is Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz and 8 grinders making $500,000.
It's an extremely difficult situation for everyone involved, including Letang, Shero and the Penguins.
Good bet we'll see an end to the speculation in a couple of days.
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Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.
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