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The Confluence

Torn on Tanger

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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Evilpens's avatar

Tony I think he is a wondrously talented D Man,BUT his Brain Farts are just terrible & at 7 Mill + no way

If there were no salary cap Of Course you sign him & just hope he toughens up Mentally & Emotionally & gets smarter & stops the Brain Farts

Posted by Evilpens on 06/28/13 at 12:19 PM ET

Flashtastick56's avatar


I think they could go to $7.5 million per, easily.

His cap hit won’t start until 2014-15 where all signs point to the cap rising “significantly.” Which, I’m guessing, means it’ll come back up to the $70-ish million it was last season.

A season where Ray Shero went all out at the trade deadline because he more than $10 million in cap room.  Malkin will be making about a million more, Letang double his current salary…meaning they could field the same exact team in 2 years they did at the beginning of this season and still be $5+ million under the cap.

Add that into the fact that at least a couple of those defensive prospects will be ready in the next year or so while other contracts will be coming off the books (Martin, Orpik, Niskanen) over that time, the emergence of Beau Bennett as a top 6 talent forward (potentially)...and I think you HAVE to keep him.

A top 4 of Letang-Despres and Martin-Orpik and top 6 featuring Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz and Bennett (for sure) and possibly Dupuis again looks pretty good to me.  Find a bargain 6th d-man to pair with Niskanen or let one of the young guys take the spot give Jeffrey the chance to play everyday…

Giving younger guys playing time worked for the Blackhawks, y’know.

Posted by Flashtastick56 from Meriden, CT on 06/28/13 at 12:31 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

UMM the ONLY problem is Clown Fart Inc won’t play the Kids

Posted by Evilpens on 06/28/13 at 12:38 PM ET

Flashtastick56's avatar

You live, you learn.

Maybe a couple of losses in the playoffs while looking at how the Hawks won makes these guys change a little bit. You have to adapt - and sometimes it takes a stiff slap in the face to force the change.

That stiff slap to the face might have been seeing how vets like Morrow and Iginla just couldn’t seem to keep up in the playoffs at some points. Maybe grabbing a bunch of veterans at the deadline isn’t the answer anymore…and if that’s the case, you have to think that Shero has seen that and passed it along to Bylsma.

And he’s said that Bennett and Despres will get top 6 and 4 roles, respectively. So that’s a step in the right direction already, if he follows through with it.

Other than Bennett, is there really anyone coming up forward-wise that deserves a look on the big club? Jeffrey has been there, toiling. I’m thinking they won’t be able to re-sign either Matt Cooke or Dupuis and they’ll be force to play DJ.

I don’t know.  That’s what I see, though.

Posted by Flashtastick56 from Meriden, CT on 06/28/13 at 01:03 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

And he’s said that Bennett and Despres will get top 6 and 4 roles, respectively. So that’s a step in the right direction already, if he follows through with it.

Said that about despres this past season & you see how that turned out ? Signing Marcia Eaton & Playing Engo over Despres all season

Posted by Evilpens on 06/28/13 at 01:18 PM ET

Flashtastick56's avatar

I don’t remember that at all.

And I’m unsure as to why you’re calling Mark Eaton “Marcia.” Is calling him a girls name supposed to be insulting?

Yayyyy misogyny!

Posted by Flashtastick56 from Meriden, CT on 06/28/13 at 02:51 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

Google it

Posted by Evilpens on 06/28/13 at 05:54 PM ET

Lindas1st's avatar

I read somewhere about a possible deal with Pheonix. Letang for Yandle and the Coyotes first pick. If that’s possible I say do it now.

Posted by Lindas1st from New England on 06/28/13 at 11:59 PM ET

Tony's avatar

Not enough….

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 06/29/13 at 08:38 AM ET

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Welcome to The Confluence, a Pittsburgh Penguins blog since 2006.

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.

I am blogger- credentialed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  My posts are regularly linked by hockey websites such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Yahoo!‘s Puck Daddy, and I’ve done numerous guest blogger spots on such websites asthe New YorkTimes.  I am a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer.

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