When defenseman Kris Letang went down with an injury (…again) just before the playoffs last season, most fans and analysts dismissed the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Stanley Cup chances. “You can win a Cup without a #1 D,” goes the narrative… except the Pens proved everyone wrong by running the table and claiming another Stanley Cup championship, this time without the help of Letang in the lineup.
This, combined with Letang’s age and his injury history, has led to speculation that the 30-year-old blue liner could be available on the trade market. Letang’s $7.5 million annual salary is no small chunk of change, and the team could certainly use the cap space to re-sign some of its young, emerging talent. After all, they’ve proved that they can win without Letang… is he really a key contributor at this point of his career?
There’s no denying Letang’s value to the team over the years, but much like Marc-Andre Fleury before him, has Letang’s time in Pittsburgh come to an end? Any talk of trading the slick skating defenseman of course depends on the potential return. Don’t expect Penguins GM Jim Rutherford to ship out his top defenseman for picks and prospects, he’ll want an impact player, likely a forward, back for Letang.
So, if Rutherford can manage to fetch a capable third line center, some picks and some propsects for Letang, should he do it? Or, is Letang so valuable to the Pens’ lineup, that they can’t afford to lose him? What’s your call?