According to Pittsburgh Penguins insider Rob Rossi for The Athletic (subscription required), Kris Letang is under the impression he’s going to be traded by general manager Jim Rutherford.
While Letang has openly said his preference is to remain a Penguins defenseman, and has even revealed he’d like to retire in a Penguins uniform, he’s also been telling teammates that he expects to be moved. Rossi said:
Still, despite being told by Rutherford that a retooling plan does not include trading him, Letang has told those close to him he expects a trade from the Penguins could happen during the offseason or sometime next season, multiple team sources said.
It sounds strange to imagine a team that has openly said they are in win-now mode would move out arguably their best defenseman. And, when you consider the GM just traded the team’s first-round pick in this year’s draft for a forward like Kasperi Kapanen — and explained he made that trade because the window for the Penguins is closing — it becomes even harder to understand. Still, accounts from what’s going on behind the scenes with the Penguins, is that apparently, Rutherford is “fishing.”
In other words, he’s not actively trying to trade Letang, but he is “feeling out what value Letang would have.”
Penguins Sending Mixed Messages
At $7.25 million, Letang certainly isn’t a bargain. He’ll be one of only a handful of blueliners making more than $7 million this coming season. That said, he’s earned most of that money as a defenseman who steadily gets around 50 points per season — last season potting 44 points in 61 games. He’s also averaged 25 minutes per game seven of the past eight campaigns.
It could be that combination of a high price (because the cap is a concern for the Penguins) and Letang’s reputation as a valuable piece that could fetch a return that explains Rutherford’s decision to see what’s out there.
At the same time, Rutherford has also been reported as having said he believes Pittsburgh’s three stars should retire as Penguins. If true, that means, he’s not fielding calls on Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby or Letang.
Still, Letang believes something is going on and so much so, he sees the writing on the wall.
What do you think? Is Letang on the move? Or, is there no way the Penguins would possibly deal him if they’re trying to compete for another Stanley Cup?
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