Kris Letang

With Malkin signed, Shero wants to see where Letang stands


Through at least the 2017-18 campaign, the Pittsburgh Penguins offense will be led by Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and James Neal. That’s a superb collection of top-end talent, but they’ll cost Pittsburgh a combined $23.2 million in cap space.

With that much already committed to three players, can the Penguins comfortably afford another expensive, long-term contract? That’s the question they have to ask themselves as they set their sights on re-signing offensive defenseman Kris Letang.

“We’ll turn our attention to Kris over the next little bit and see where we are, have those conversations and see exactly if they’re in the same ballpark of what we’re thinking,” Penguins GM Ray Shero said, according to the team’s website. “Until we get to those discussions, I don’t know what his expectations are.

“Does he want to be here? Somewhere else? It’s hard for me to know what Kris’ intentions are until I get into some sort of discussions with his agent and Kris.”

Shero sees him as a key player that he wants to re-sign. The 26-year-old blueliner is a finalist for the 2013 Norris Trophy after recording 38 points in 35 games.

Letang is entering the final season of his four-year, $14 million deal. That price proved to be a steal and there’s speculation that Letang will seek at least $7 million annually. If the Penguins give him that kind of a deal, then nearly half of their cap hit, by the standards of the 2013-14 ceiling at least, will be consumed by just four players.

With that in mind, Shero isn’t ruling out any options, including the possibility of trading Letang.

“If we don’t have a deal by the draft, does that mean we’re trading him? I can’t speculate that. I don’t even know,” he said. “I don’t want to say a player can’t be traded or will never be traded. It’s hard to do that. We’re going to get to those discussion and see, make some decisions and maybe we get into July or August with Kris Letang on a one-year contract.

“He’s under contract for next year. He doesn’t have any clause in his contract for a no-move or block whatever we would try to do, or want to do. Having said that, I want to try and get to Kris and see exactly what they have in mind, and see whether or not that will work for us. Then we can make some decisions.”

PHT Morning Skate: Beat writers survey predicts Ducks will win Cup

Corey Perry, Frederik Andersen
AP Photo
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

In a survey of 29 beat writers, the Anaheim Ducks emerged as the clear favorite to win the Stanley Cup. If you’ll recall, they have that in common with the EA Sports simulation. (Boston Globe)

Alex Ovechkin would pick an Olympic hit against Jaromir Jagr as the biggest check of his life. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

Here are the highlights from Minnesota’s 5-4 victory over Colorado:

The Montreal Canadiens seem committed to using Alex Galchenyuk as a center throughout the 2015-16 campaign. (The Canadian Press)

The NHL recently enlisted its players to read off some not so mean tweets. (USA Today)

Bills coach Rex Ryan talked about the Sabres in Thursday’s press conference. (

Frederik Andersen may have the Anaheim Ducks’ starting job for now, but with John Gibson still a big part of their plans, Andersen has to keep proving himself. (Orange County Register)

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.