Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall indicated yesterday that the finish line was in sight for an agreement between the team and Kris Letang for a contract extension.
That finish line was reached today with the Pens announcing the finalization of a new deal with Letang. The details are surprising, shocking even — with the team giving a six year contract extension to the 35-year old.
Letang has spent all 16 years of his NHL career in Pittsburgh, for 941 games. His name is on the Stanley Cup three times and he holds practically every franchise record for defensemen in his career. Letang is coming off his best offensive statistical season with a career-high in assists (58) and points (68). Letang turned 35 in April, but is still Pittsburgh’s most heavily relied on skater, and that isn’t likely to change any time soon. Letang averaged playing 25:47 in 2021-22.
Letang, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are the only trio in NHL history to spend 16 season together, but it still remains to be seen if that will grow to 17 with all three. Malkin remains unsigned, with Letang more of the priority to date.
With free agency starting next Wednesday afternoon (July 13) the Pens now have limited time and cap space to attempt to reach an agreement with Malkin to keep the long-time Crosby/Malkin/Letang core in tact.
But the team can move ahead knowing their defense remains strong by retaining their best player on the blueline.
The super-sized deal in length also keeps the salary cap hit down to $6.1 million dollars, leaving Pittsburgh plenty of money as they look to sign or replace Malkin and a few more forwards.