Off to a rocky start defensively this season, is it time for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ to consider moving defenseman Kris Letang to a forward position?
It’s rather soon to even be deliberating the switch, but Letang simply isn’t playing like his Norris trophy self. Getting kicked off the top power-play – now that Paul Martin’s injured he’s back on it – and owning a miserable minus-8 rating through 17 games, Letang seems to be having a difficult time adjusting to Jacques Martin’s defensive scheme.
And that’s totally understandable, considering he missed a large portion of the season due to an injured reserve stint; however, his turnovers and puck management have been utterly uncharacteristic of him. When he’s losing the puck, opposing teams’ are capitalizing on odd-man rushes and making the Pens’ goaltenders look embarrassing.
The one aspect of Letang’s game right now that I like is his offense. And recognizing that the Pens’ have had trouble building any sort of production from their secondary scorers, wouldn’t it make sense to list Letang as a forward?
Not only would it seem rational, but it would also open a spot on defense, considering they have plenty of depth at that position.
Recent call-up Simon Despres, who was demoted this offseason for lack of conditioning and salary cap reasons, reportedly impressed the coaching staff in Wednesday’s wild tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs. And perhaps he won’t stay long because of Rob Scuderi’s impending return, however, the move could give the staff’ a closer evaluation of Despres due to the possibility of a future injury/trade.
Letang’s an all-pro talent, there’s no denying that, but there’s just no way he can play this poorly for this long – it’s almost hard to watch at times. Maybe coming from a Pens’ fan’s point of view, perhaps I’m rushing to judgment, and moving him around would only make him feel more uncomfortable than he already is. But I figure, hey, if Deryk Engelland can do it, I have all the faith in the world that Letang would succeed as a forward.
For the forseeable future, I don’t think we’ll see Letang struggling as much as he currently is. In fact, since Martin’s injury will keep him out for a while, it just might be more incentive for Letang to start being the two-way defenseman we all know he can be.
We’ll see how he does this evening, as the Pens’ take on the surging Lightning’ team in Tampa.
The game can be seen on the ROOT Network, and is set to start at 4 p.m.