Would trading Letang be in the Penguins best interest?
There is no denying the skill that Kris Letang has. The 2012-2013 Norris Trophy candidate has surely grown and proved his worth since being an NHL regular since the 2007-2008 season . Unfortunately his play at his position is a little unorthodox to what many are use to. Fans and even some analysts believe Ray Shero should look at moving him to acquire a bigger need on the team. Such as a top six winger.
His stats show that he is a capable defender as well as point producer. So why all the angst in having him traded?
Letang is currently making $3.5 million and is in the final year of that contract. Starting on July 1st Kris will begin making $7.25 a year for the next eight seasons. That seems to be where people (fans) begin to panic.
The deal makes him the third highest paid player on the team following only Sidney Crosby ($8.7/yr) and Evgeni Malkin ($9.5/yr). It’s because of this that the majority of Penguins fans believe he should be traded.
His contract though is not much of an issue when you look at what comparable defenders such as P.K. Subban or Erik Karlsson will be making on their next deals, Letang’s will look like a steal. Especially with the salary cap rising next season buy about $7 million.
Another reason he has been all but kicked out of Pittsburgh is his “inconsistent” play. And I say that very loosely. While he may have the occasional mistake on the ice, his dominate skills and ability to control the play at any given time surely makes up for his mishaps.
Take a look at the game against the Washington Capitals on 1/15/2014. While on the Power Play Kris attempted to make a difficult pass up the ice to Sidney Crosby, Unfortunately the puck was picked off by Brooks Laich of the Capitals and scored to give Washington a 1 – 0 lead in the first.
Letang did redeem himself in the second period when he scored a goal to tie the game at one. The goal was a typical Kris Letang goal where he pinched into the offensive zone and wristed it towards the net.
That game is a perfect example of how the Penguins understand that you have to take the good with the bad when it comes to Letang’s play. Yes he was the reason that the Capitals got on the board and take an early lead, but he was then the reason the Penguins began their eventual come back.
Lets also consider who or what the Penguins could get in return for the blue-liner. A top six forward would make sense, but isn’t Kris worth more than that? How about a throwing in a Draft Pick and a prospect?
While that all sounds good, Letang would be the best player in any deal. Try and think of a time where a team actually won a trade when they were the ones to trade away the better player.
So would trading Letang be in the Penguins best interest? Absolutely not. Letang is not only the now but also the future of Pittsburgh’s defense. And while he may have some growing and learning to do, he will surely continue to do so and exceed his potential.
There is very little chance the Penguins would win in trading number 58 so maybe it’s time to stop criticizing him so much and let him do his thing and cheer him on.
- Robert Slavinsky