Monday, July 1, 2013

Pens to pay three players big money: DON'T FREAK OUT

By Artistry

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.
But there's a notion out there that since the Pens are on the verge of eating up about $25 million with the Crosby, Malkin, and Letang deals, they are bound to fill out the roster with 18 Dustin Jeffreys. First of all, what's wrong with that? Second, it's an assertion that doesn't stand up to even the mildest scrutiny.

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.


  1. yeah, i thought about it yesterday and it's not a bad thing, necessarily, to re-sign tanger. i say trade niskanen for a solid bottom 6 winger and roll orpik-martin, letang-despres, and murray-prospect. use cash for the top 6 winger. send MAF to a sports psychologist who works out of a buddhist temple and we still have as good a shot as most at the Cup. the real question is how long will i be able to resist buying a beau bennett jersey?

  2. Amen- I would consider trading Letang, depending on the pieces received. But I can't imagine how the team would end up better without him, whatever flaws he might have. First, let's just acknowledge that the offense puts up like a full 1 g/g more with him. Second, does anyone feel comfortable with a top four of Martin, Orpik, Despres and Niskanen - or some average FA that they'll have to pay 4-5 million anyway? Last, it's incomprehensible to me that the fanbase - which generally has been vehemently against this deal - seems to think that Harrington, Maatta, and Pouliot are just going to show up and play 20 good minutes a night any time now. They are likely at least 3-4 years away from even pretending to eat the minutes Letang does with any sort of productivity.

    On another tangent - I wouldn't trade Niskanen, and I don't think the Pens will, given the need for defensive depth. We need him. Sorry - but I don't want a bottom pairing of Engelland and Bortuzzo. Nor will the Pens. And if you look in free agency, you aren't going to find anyone significantly better than Nisky for a couple million.

    Finally - I'm really curious as to what the Pens are going to do with Jokinen. I think that there are worse options than putting him beside Geno. He played well enough in a Pens jersey that he warrants a role, and he's been a top 6 guy. (Although I will acknowledge that I don't know if be played R or L generally when he played wing in Carolina, since he was playing mostly center with us.)

    1. Good points. I'm increasingly OK with re-signing Letang, even at a number slightly over $7M and with a limited NTC.

      I think what happened is that Ray Shero looked at his roster without Letang and saw that the Pens would be relying on Paul Martin to be the Pens' best defensive and offensive defenseman for 26 minutes/game for 82 games. The Pens would rather overpay Letang by a little bit than bring in some lesser defensemen for too much money. The biggest thing Letang still has going for him is that we don't yet know his ceiling. I'm ok with 8 for $58 and with Shero saying he won't trade Letang at least until the new deal kicks in.