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?
The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.
You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:
If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.
The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.
The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.
“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.
“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”
While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.
“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”
Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?