The Pittsburgh Penguins have locked up another key piece of their core today by announcing the signing of Kris Letang to an eight-year, $58 million extension. Letang was already signed through 2013-14, so he’s now under the Penguins control until the summer of 2022.
In Letang, the Penguins have a 26-year-old that’s widely regarded as one of the top offensive defenseman in the league. He was a finalist for the 2013 Norris Trophy and had 80 points in 86 games over the last two seasons.
At the same time, Pittsburgh is taking a sizable risk by agreeing to pay Letang an average of $7.25 million annually over the life of this contract. The Penguins now have $30.45 million worth of cap space committed to Letang, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and James Neal starting in 2014-15. That represents nearly half of the salary cap by next year’s standards tied to just four players.
While it is likely that the cap will increase over the life of these players contracts, Penguins GM Ray Shero might still have a tough time building a supporting cast around those four stars with what’s left of his cap space.