The Pittsburgh Penguins have been looking to build a dynasty. In the past couple years, they’ve moved to keep key players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Chris Kunitz in the fold with big contracts, and have succeeded in doing so. Crosby signed a 12-year, $104M contract last offseason, Malkin signed an eight-year, $76M contract a few weeks ago, Neal inked a six-year, $30M deal last year, and Kunitz got himself a three-year, $11.5M agreement only last week.
So, next in the sights of the Penguins front office was defenseman Kris Letang, who is coming off a season that saw him play 35 games, notch 38 points and be nominated for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman. Pittsburgh offered him almost $7M/year- and that apparently wasn’t enough.
According to NHL.com, the deal Letang rejected would have been for eight years, and around $54M. However, the same report indicates that Letang is looking for a deal in the $7.5M/year range- a deal that would be tough to pull off, given the Penguins’ current glut of already-large contracts, and the deals they’ll likely have to hand out to players like Brooks Orpik and Beau Bennett in the coming years.
Last offseason, we had the contract sagas of Jamie Benn, Ryan O’Reilly and P.K. Subban to entertain us. Now, it appears as though Letang’s situation could provide the same kind of news- albeit with a shorter window. Benn, O’Reilly and Subban were all restricted free agents, giving their respective teams (Dallas, Colorado and Montreal) plenty of time to work out contracts. Letang, on the other hand is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 5.
That gives Pittsburgh a week to make up the $500K/year gap they have with Letang, trade him to a team willing to pay that much….or watch him walk on the fifth of July for nothing. Should be an interesting week in the Steel City.
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