There are legitimate reasons not to like the proposed Kris Letang extension. He may never mature into a consistent defensive force. He's not Sergei Gonchar on the power play. He can't seem to take constructive criticism.
|He did this like 5 minutes before the lockout ended.|
|This is his hair.|
Even with a new Letang deal, the Penguins have about $8 million to spend under the cap for next season. If they move Matt Niskanen, which is entirely possible if not likely, they'll have more than $10 million. With that money, the only imperative is signing one top 6 winger and one bottom 6 winger (either Pascal Dupuis and Matt Cooke, or two younger, cheaper guys to replace them.) Craig Adams is going to re-sign for his typical $700-800k-ish deal. They've still got a top 6 that includes Sid, Geno, Neal, Kunitz, and the eminently ready Beau Bennett.
What about when the Letang and Malkin extensions kick in, you ask? As of today and assuming Letang's deal gets done, the Pens would be nearly $20 million under the existing cap of $64,300,000 in 2014-15. There is a lot of informed speculation that the cap will be back to at least $70,000,000 by that time. So what, exactly, are people worried about?
If you don't like the pieces you get for your $45 million in 2014-15 (Crosby, Malkin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Beau Bennett, Letang, Paul Martin, and Fleury), that's a different story, and an entirely different debate. But with an infusion of young, cheap, blue chip defenseman like Despres, Maatta, Dumoulin, Pouliot, and Harrington ready or nearly ready to play, there will be cash left over to fill out a roster. And if there isn't? That's why you negotiate limitations to a no-trade clause.