Victor Hedman delivers a wounding hit to Sidney Crosby." width="750", height="500">Remember this? Sidney Crosby might be a little fuzzy about it too.
My opinion on the subject is well-known at this point.
A trade of Letang for Victor Hedman would return the type of big, physical presence that the Pens currently lack on the blue line. Hedman is approximately 3 years the junior of Letang. He's also 6 inches taller and 50 pounds heavier. Letang's cap hit amounts to $7.25M over the next 8 seasons. Hedman is at $4M over 3 seasons. Letang is coming off of concussions and a stroke. Hedman is coming off the best season of his blossoming professional career..
But, it's possible that other teams are in need of Letang's services. David Staples of the Edmonton Journal suggests that the Oilers might be interested in Letang with this post written a few days ago. Jim Matheson, of the same Edmonton Journal, even suggests that a puck-moving defenseman like Letang is much needed in Tampa, a sentiment to which I have to agree. Martin St. Louis isn't around to pass the puck to Steven Stamkos, and Matt Carle is likely the best puck-moving defenseman that the Bolts have on board.
So, what's the point, what am I trying to tell you? Letang is a risk, an expensive one, whose role could, and should be handed off to a more defensively oriented player. More importantly, what I'm trying to tell you is that he should be on the block... big time! Three straight seasons of significant injury, $7.25M of cap-crippling, and a tendency to lapse mentally (concussions and strokes will probably do that to a guy) are three things that the Penguins do not need.
Hedman draws comparisons to a young Chris Pronger, both players drafted at #2 overall. Letang, a 62nd overall pick, is starting to look like a slightly better version of Mike Green. Even in his best season, Letang only amounted to 50 points. Last year, Hedman turned in 55.
Letang's Best Season: (2010-2011) - 82GP, 50P, 8G, 42A, +15, 236S, 109BKs, 167Hits, 101PIM, 52GvA, 39TkA, 24:02AvgTOI
Hedman's Best Season: (2013-2014) - 75GP, 55P, 13G, 42A, +8, 170S, 101 BKs, 86Hits, 44GvA, 34TkA, 22:26AvgTOI
The most surprising number here is the amount of hits that Letang delivered in 2010-2011 - impressive for a smaller player. I can remember when Letang was speedy and nasty enough to close on opposing players and still manage to knock them off the puck, even if he started out behind the opposition on the ice. In more recent years though, the evidence for Letang's decline has mounted. He's seen a decrease in hits, blocks, time on ice, and pretty much every significant category. Granted, he's had his injuries. He has essentially had to call in sick. But, if you were the boss of a company and you had an employee that constantly called in sick, what would you do? What if he was your highest paid employee in a particular department?
You go Vince McMahon on his ass!