There were already rumblings that a salary cap crush and some playoff struggles might spell the end of Kris Letang’s time with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Rossi fanned those flames on Wednesday, citing sources that claim Letang is “uneasy” about his status within the franchise.
One detail that’s almost as juicy: if it’s determined that a trade is necessary, those same anonymous sources claim that the 26-year-old defenseman would prefer to join the Toronto Maple Leafs.
According to the report, the Penguins would ask for an NHL-ready player who is under contract, one or more top prospects and a “potential first-round draft pick.”
It’s important to note that the Penguins haven’t given up on signing Letang. GM Ray Shero told Rossi that the “focus is on working out a new contract,” yet he didn’t rule out several options, including a trade.
Both sides give the impression that it would be ideal for Letang to stay with a contract extension in hand, at least from what’s been said.
Letang’s bargain $3.5 million cap hit expires after 2013-14, and with the market treating high-scoring defenseman very well, it’s believed that the Norris Trophy candidate could fetch a healthy ransom.
The situation is somewhat reminiscent of last summer, when Jordan Staal and the Penguins reached an impasse during contract extension talks, leading to the two-way center being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes.
It’s way too early to say that Letang will be wearing another team’s uniform next season. Still, it begs the question: is Letang getting married this summer?