Kris Letang

Kris Letang

Letang cleared for workouts, Dupuis still being assessed

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The Pittsburgh Penguins got some good news about Kris Letang (concussion), but Pascal Dupuis’ future is still hazy, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Letang has gotten the OK to participate in workouts without any restrictions. That doesn’t mean he’s fully recovered, but he might be 100% by the time training camp starts. A healthy Letang is naturally a very big asset for Pittsburgh. He had 11 goals and 54 points in 69 games while averaging 25:29 minutes per contest in 2014-15.

Getting Pascal Dupuis back would be a big deal as well, but the 36-year-old forward’s future is still very much in question. He hasn’t played since Nov. 15 because he was diagnosed with a blood clots. He’s been skating for months now and the Penguins hope to know more about his availability soon.

“The next step is, there are certain medications you can go on that may allow you to play, or may not allow you to play,” Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said.

“That’s the next step now, to see if there’s a medication that gives him enough recovery time that he’s available to play every day. That’s what we’re waiting to see.”

Related:

Dupuis thinks he can play again, but ‘it’s not up to me’

Letang (concussion), Dupuis (blood clots) to be ‘retested’ over next two weeks

Pittsburgh Penguins v Anaheim Ducks
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The next 14 days will be fairly important ones for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Defenseman Kris Letang and forward Pascal Dupuis — who were shut down this season due to a concussion and blood clots, respectively — are set to undergo medical tests over the next two weeks in the hopes of clearing up their playing futures.

“We will hopefully know something then,” Pens GM Jim Rutherford said, per the Tribune-Review. “[We’re] keeping our fingers crossed.”

Dupuis, 36, was shut down in mid-November with a blood clot in his lung. While he said he feels he can return to action, he did acknowledge the decision was “not up to me,” and that a series of medical tests would be required before he could be cleared.

A regular linemate of Sidney Crosby, Dupuis is heading into the third of a four-year, $15 million deal that carries an average annual cap hit of $3.75M.

As for Letang, he was shut down in early April after suffering his fourth concussion in three years on this hit from Arizona captain Shane Doan:

The 28-year-old also suffered a stroke last season — one that, remarkably, only sidelined him for 10 weeks — yet insists that he’ll be ready to go for training camp in the fall.

More, from the Tribune-Review:

[Letang] hasn’t considered having his career cut short by head injuries.

“No concern,” he said. “I’m on my way to coming back. I’m just going through the protocol. I’ll be back on the ice. I missed only a bunch of games once, when I got (a concussion) in Montreal (in 2011). I never missed time for a concussion after that. I’m not really scared.”

Letang said he will be ready for next season.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “Oh yeah. Right from training camp.”

It’s likely the prognoses for both Letang and Dupuis will affect how Rutherford addresses free agency and potential offseason trades. The Penguins missed Dupuis’ production up front — in his last full season, the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, he had 38 points in 48 games — and Letang was the biggest injury on a blueline that was decimated in the second half of the season, to where the Pens dressed just five d-men for a couple of games down the stretch.

2015 Masterton Trophy finalists: Dubnyk, Hammond, Letang

Andrew Hammond
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The Professional Hockey Writers Association named the three finalists for the 2015 Bill Masterton Trophy on Thursday: Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk, Ottawa Senators netminder Andrew Hammond and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang.

The award goes to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.” It’s tough to think of three better nominees for the 2014-15 season.

Dubnyk, 28, went from a ruinous season in 2013-14 (being cast off by the Edmonton Oilers and eventually finding himself in career limbo) to a Vezina Trophy finalist this season. You can read more about his journey here.

Hammond, 27, came into the season as an unknown. He was an undrafted free agent with little on his resume, only to lead the Senators to one of the most unlikely playoff bids in recent memory (if ever). He also earned a lifetime supply of free McDonald’s, so he’s not without awards already. (Though he’d probably take a new contract over unlimited McGriddles.) The Senators have more on “The Hamburgler” here.

Letang, 28, overcame the greatest odds physically. He suffered a frightening stroke last season – and has dealt with plenty of more traditional injuries over the years, including unfortunate concussion issues – only to post possibly the best season of his NHL career in 2014-15. Check out more from the Penguins, including some heartfelt quotes from the Penguins.

All three players present inspirational stories, but only one will bring home the Masterton this year.

Friedman: Penguins need to ‘think about’ trading Malkin

Columbus Blue Jackets v Pittsburgh Penguins
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The Pittsburgh Penguins came up short in the playoffs again, falling in five games to the New York Rangers while scoring just eight goals total.

And you know what another playoff disappointment for the Penguins means — no shortage of ideas on how to fix them.

While the jobs of the coach and GM appear safe, at least one prominent NHL insider — Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman — believes it’s time for the franchise to “think about” trading Evgeni Malkin.

“If you can get two or three pieces including a guy that can play with (Sidney) Crosby, don’t you have to think about it?” Friedman said Monday on Sportnet radio. “At what point do you say, yeah, we won the Stanley Cup, but that was six years ago? These two guys together make $18.2 million, and we keep losing in the playoffs because we don’t have enough support pieces.”

Remember that the Penguins also have defenseman Kris Letang signed to a hefty contract. In fact, Crosby, Malkin and Letang are each top-25 cap hits in the NHL.

Now, for the record, the Penguins say they have “no interest” in breaking up Crosby and Malkin, so all this could be a complete non-starter.

‘Tis that time of the season, though.

Letang (concussion) will be ready for Pens’ training camp

Kris Letang
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Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang says he’s feeling better after suffering a season-ending concussion in late March and, what’s more, is fully confident he’ll be ready to play by the start of next season.

From the Tribune-Review:

The 28-year-old defenseman has suffered multiple concussions, a stroke and has a history of migraine headaches. However, he hasn’t considered having his career cut short by head injuries.

“No concern,” he said. “I’m on my way to coming back. I’m just going through the protocol. I’ll be back on the ice. I missed only a bunch of games once, when I got (a concussion) in Montreal (in 2011). I never missed time for a concussion after that. I’m not really scared.”

Letang said he will be ready for next season.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “Oh yeah. Right from training camp.”

Letang missed the Pens’ final six games of the regular season with the concussion, and all five playoff games in an opening-round loss to the Rangers. Prior to getting hurt he was having a banner campaign — a career-high 54 points in 69 games — and was averaging more than 25 minutes a night.

Needless to say, his injury was a crucial blow to the Penguins (along with Olli Maatta and Pascal Dupuis, both of whom also suffered season-ending injuries.) This is part of the reason why Pittsburgh is reportedly giving head coach Mike Johnston and GM Jim Rutherford another kick at the can — CEO David Morehouse  said he’s “never given any consideration” to replacing the pair, citing the team’s man games lost to injury as a big reason why it slumped down the stretch and won just a single playoff game before getting eliminated.