Although it hasn’t been finalized yet, all reports seems to suggest that Kris Letang will be a Pittsburgh Penguin for the foreseeable future. The deal is reportedly eight years worth 58 million which equals out to be a quarter million more per year than the deal that Letang turned down a couple days ago. The number they settled on is actually closer to the organization’s number than what Letang asked for.
The question at this point is whether bringing Letang back is the right move. A friend of mine, who you can follow on Twitter @MusefulBuckles, compared the Pens’ strategy to the Blackhawks and it makes a lot of sense. They’re going to keep their core together and supplement it with the necessary role players.
Of course people are jammed up about this strategy because it means the Pens can’t keep everyone. Guys like Matt Cooke and Craig Adams are as good as gone. The time they spent here was intensely valuable but they have grown in age and it is time to move on.
The guy that people are most upset about is Pascal Dupuis and that is understandable. He is a fan favorite and his career broke out as a Penguin. That being said, this Letang deal doesn’t effect him. Someone is likely going to toss four years at Dupuis for somewhere around four million a year. That’s insane. And Dupuis would be insane to turn it down.
But back to Letang (hair style pictured above). The biggest gripe about him is how he performs in the playoffs. The Boston series was an absolute train wreck for him. He was probably the worst player on the ice. Which is such a contrast to the two series before that where he was on pace to have the best postseason of any Penguins defenseman ever.
My biggest concern at this point is how he handles the pressure of this contract. His performance over the years in the playoffs has already begun to alienate fans. If he doesn’t perform right away with this contract, he’s going to hear about it. He’s going to need to score 65-70 points per year. He’s going to have to stay healthy. He’s going to have to win Norris trophies and show up in the playoffs. That’s a lot of pressure for a guy who has a history of shrinking when the spotlight is on him.