Kris Letang and his agent are looking for money. Big money. You might even call it ridiculous money. How ridiculous are we talking? Evidently, Letang has turned down an eight-year, $56 million offer that was extended from the Penguins to the defenseman, as reported by Pierre LeBrun.
LeBrun also reported that Letang countered, asking for a long-term deal that paid an annual salary somewhere between $7.5 and $8 million a year. The Penguins declined, claiming that was too much money.
Do these latest developments mean we've seen the last of Letang in Pittsburgh?
To recap, the Penguins offered $7 million a year for eight years. Letang countered, asking for between $7.5 and $8 million a year over the course of an unspecified long-term deal. Realistically, the sides aren't too far apart, but it's crazy to think that a defenseman making $3.5 million a year would balk at an offer where he'd earn twice that for the next eight seasons.
Pittsburgh's offer is more than fair. In fact, it's quite generous considering they already have a strained budget due to massive contracts for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. If Pittsburgh's offer to Letang was accepted (eight-years, $56 million), the team would have only $19.35 million in cap space remaining for 2014-15, assuming the NHL's salary cap is $64.3 million. The cap will likely rise before then, but the fact is that Pittsburgh would have at least $49 million tied up in just eight players.
What happens now?
It's possible Pittsburgh and Letang agree on a deal since the sides are so close, but it's also possible Pittsburgh says enough is enough and moves the defenseman. At the very least, a trade seems more likely now than it did a few days ago. Negotiations may continue, but it's doubtful we'll hear much more about it since the Penguins will want to keep Letang's trade value as high as possible in the event they decide to make a deal.
Is Letang even worth this much money?
That's the million dollar – actually the $56 million – question. There's no question Letang is skilled offensively (209 points in 385 games), but he does benefit from the wealth of talent around him on the ice. His defensive ability is also in question, especially after he was shredded on numerous occasions in the team's playoff series against Boston.
Perhaps the Penguins should look to their neighbors in Washington and ask how things have worked out with Mike Green.