By all accounts, the Penguins have prioritized Kris Letang right now for trying to fit a contract extension into place with what space they have.
In the past 24 hours, it finally looks like there has been some progress being made to a compromise. David Pagnotta from the Fourth Period talked on 93.7 the Fan yesterday, indicating that the sides are closing in on a deal.
This was also matched on Friday by what NHL insider Elliotte Friedman said on his 32 Thoughts podcast, as far as growing optimism between Letang and the Pens finding some common ground in their negotiations.
Friedman on 32 thoughts this morning with regards to Letang & Forsberg; There are teams out there who are interested in both players who believe there is a path to a deal (for both players to re-sign with their teams).— Hunter (@HunterHodies) July 1, 2022
This matches up to reports earlier in the week from Josh Yohe at The Athletic where Letang was seeking north of $8 million and possibly as much as $9 million on a five-year contract. If Pagnotta is accurate that now the math has shifted to the $7-8 range, that could mark the player’s side bumping down a bit on the salary to make a deal work.
As team president Brian Burke said earlier in the week, “we want to sign both players...but they gotta come back at term and contract dollars that make sense.” Letang’s cap hit at $8-9 million doesn’t fit in what the Pens have left under the salary cap. But if Pagnotta is correct about it now getting into the $7-8 range, that starts to make more sense.
In the recent past, it was reported by Friedman that Letang and the Pens were just north of $1 million per year apart on a salary, with Pittsburgh favoring a three-year contract and Letang seeking a five-year extension.
It remains unknown what the final terms of the length of the next contract might be, but if the sides are compromising, a four season pact makes a lot of logical sense as a common ground to meet in the middle.
Free agency begins on July 13, the Pens will have to push to figure out where they can fit Letang in and then shift to figure out what, if anything they can offer to attempt to keep or replace others like Evgeni Malkin, Rickard Rakell, Casey DeSmith and more as far as lower-end free agents like Evan Rodrigues and Kasperi Kapanen.
Something will have to give somewhere, but it looks like progress with Pittsburgh and Letang starting to move closer to each other for a compromise.