Penguins Upcoming Free Agent Letang Sign ’em or Trade ’em

The Pittsburgh Penguins have some tough decisions to make. We all know the March 21.2022 NHL Trade Deadline is fast approaching, and that means upcoming Free Agents are officially on the Trading Block.  Or are they?

Guess who is an Unrestricted Free Agent at the end of 2021-2022…Yup…#58.

Would you sign him right now to a Long-Term Deal?  To a Term Deal?  Or Trade Him?

As of March02.2022 let’s discuss what to do with Kris Letang #58 Defensemen.

A 2005 Third Round Draft Pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Letang has played his entire career with Pittsburgh.  He grew up and became a leader on this team.  He is a member of the Core 3, (Crosby, Malkin, Letang who have won 3-Stanley Cups together in 2009,2016,2017).

#58 is a desirable gem, who is used in multiple situations; from playing Rock-Solid Defense, making tape to tape outlet passes, to killing penalties, to helping in the Offensive zone as well as Quarterbacking the Power Play.

Letang #58 – By the Numbers

3rd in Team Scoring with 48 Points. (6 Goals and 42 Assists)

1st on the team with 42 Assists.

His 42 Assists have him ranked 2nd overall in the NHL.

His 48 points rank him 6th amongst NHL Defensemen.

Letang is clocking in with an average of 25.50 minutes per game, which ranks him 6th overall in time on ice.

The Penguins rank 6th overall in the NHL in Goals Allowed with 143. (Up from 18th overall in Oct).

The Penguins rank 13th overall in the NHL in Power Play at 22.0%

The Penguins rank 3rd overall in the NHL in Penalty Kill with a 85.8% Kill Rate.

Goaltender Jarry ranks 6th overall in the NHL with a 2.33 GAA

Letang has been a big part of the Penguins Offense as well as a key figure in the tighter Defensive play.

Letang put together a nice 10 game points streak from Jan02 to jan21.2022, where he scored 15 points during this time. (2 Goals and 13 Assists)

Letang -Most Goals in a season 16 – 2015-2016 and 2018-2019

Letang -Most Assists in a season 51 – 2015-2016

Letang -Most Points in a season 67 – 2015-2016

Game Play

The Right-Handed shooting Letang is the franchise blueliner, every Stanley Cup contender needs or has.  He is the Quarterback of the Power Play.  He is the Lead Defender on the Penalty Kill.   He makes perfect passes out of his zone.  He is a big reason the Penguins have been playing overall, solid Team Defense.  They Don’t Allow Goals, when #58 in on the ice.

Letang is in the final year of his contract, making $7,250,000.  The rumour has the 34 year old Letang headed to Montreal.  We have heard this for a number of years.  I’m not sold on that happening.

Comparables as of March 02.2022

Makar – Col – Age 23 – 58 Points $9 Million Per Season

Josi – Nash – Age 31 – 55 Points $9 Million Per Season

Fox – NYR – Age 24 – 53 Points $9.5 Million Per Season

Hedman – TB – Age 31 – 51 Points $7.875 Million Per Season

Ekbald – Fla – Age 26 – 49 Points $7.5 Million Per Season

Letang – Pitts – Age 34 – 48 Points $7.250 Million Per Season

Pittsburgh Penguins as of March02.2022

33-14-8 = 74 Points

2nd in the Metropolitan Division (Up from 7th Place in Oct)

4th Tied-in the Eastern conference (Up from 13th Place in Oct)

5th Tied-in the NHL overall (Up from 22nd overall in Oct)

Pittsburgh Penguins are holding the #2 Playoff Spot, in the Metropolitan Division (Eastern Conference).

My View from the Cheap Seats

Letang #58 has been a great Penguin and will go down as one of the All-Time Great Penguins.  He has earned everything that he has made to date.  As mentioned above, he is invaluable in so many situations on the ice.  He is a True Leader.

Letang will command big bucks as a Free Agent if he so chooses.

Who could the Penguins get for Letang, if they are thinking of trading him?

The Penguins are a good, solid team right now, and are ready to make a run for the Stanley Cup this year. They returned from the Abyss earlier in the season, worked out the kinks are battle-tested and ready for the playoffs.  Letang at age 34, is a key cog in this run for the cup.

As the Penguins near closer to the March 21.2022 NHL trade Deadline, they are looking to win now as well as Win in the future.  I can see 3-options here.

1-Signing Letang to a Large Long-Term Contract, will severely handcuff the Penguins Cap structure, for the remaining term of this proposed deal.

2-Signing Letang to a 3-Year Contract, matching the term left on the Crosby #87 contract, is an option, again as long as the money is right.  You might be able to back-end load the 3rd year if necessary.

3-Play out the season.  Win the Cup. And maybe part ways if Letang want to get rich going elsewhere, or re-visit this in the offseason.

In my humble opinion, Letang is a great Penguin, and I would love to keep him for the right price.  However, in todays Cap Era, a bad long-term contract can hand-cuff a franchise.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, the Penguins would then need to replace this All-Star, Right-Handed Shooting Defensemen and they still have these Upcoming Free Agents to consider Signing or Trading…Oh the joy.

The A-List Upcoming Penguin Free Agents

Malkin #71 – Forward

Rust #17 – Forward

Rodrigues #9 – Forward

Kapanen #42 – Forward

The B-List Upcoming Penguin Free Agents

…is for another time

Quote of the Day

“Buy Low, Sell High.  The real question is to know when.”

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