Coming off his best season thus far with the Pittsburgh Penguins, defenseman Kris Letang is looking at an even better one for the 2013-14 campaign.
Finishing as a finalist for the Norris Trophy (best defenseman) and signing a new eight-year deal to stay in Pittsburgh, Letang is primed to pile up the statistics — potentially some of the best numbers ever for a defenseman.
In 35 regular-season contests last season, Letang notched 38 points (5G, 33A) and he skated to a phenomenal plus-16 rating.
If he hadn’t missed 13 games due to injury/illness, the 26-year-old French-Canadian without a doubt wouldn’t have been tied with Montreal’s P.K. Subban for tops amongst defenseman in scoring.
Even though he was hampered by a nagging groin injury, Letang was still not only able to top defensemen in points-per-game average (1.09), but he cracked the top-10 in the NHL — showing how skilled he can be offensively.
He didn’t stop either.
Carrying his monstrous offensive regular-season into the postseason, he led all NHL defensemen in scoring and he did it in less games than the next three that finished right below him.
Potting 16 points (3G, 13A) in 15 outings, Letang was second to Boston’s David Krejci in assists for any NHL player, and he finished tied for fourth in the league for minutes played per game.
Quarterbacking the authoritative power play that Pittsburgh has and performing in a full 82-game season, can you imagine the type of year Letang could have?
Putting his points-per-game average this past season into perspective, if he remains healthy and plays in every contest for this Pens this upcoming year, we could possibly see 100 points for Letang — which hasn’t been accomplished by a defenseman since Brian Leetch did it during the 1991-92 campaign (102).
And Leetch only played in 80 games that season.
Matter of fact, there have only been five defensemen in NHL history to have every eclipsed the 100-point mark — the other four were Paul Coffey, Al MacInnis, Bobby Orr and Denis Potvin.
This is all hypothetically speaking for Letang; however, he hasn’t been able to stay off the shelf the past two seasons because of his increased workload.
Performing in all 82 games one time throughout his entire NHL career (2010-11), he’s going to have to find a way to remain able-bodied — because as farfetched as it sounds, he could go after the top-10 all-time best scoring years for a defenseman.
Number-58 probably won’t catch Orr’s record of 139 points — which is still crazy to think about — but Letang’s skill, along with his talented team give him a feasible chance at achieving one of best displays for a blueliner ever.
I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for this man.