There is a strong belief in Pittsburgh that the Penguins have a core of untouchable players that will never be traded by the team. While it’s true and captain Sidney Crosby and star forward Evgeni Malkin are ambassadors of that core, team insider Josh Yohe of The Athletic believes defenseman Kris Letang is no longer part of that core and could get moved this offseason.
Yohe notes that the untouchable division of the team now includes, as always Crosby and Malkin, but also Jake Guentzel, John Marino, Brian Dumoulin, Tristan Jarry and prospect Samuel Poulin.
As you can see, the choice is clear here : the Penguins should get rid of veteran goalie Matt Murray and put their trust and future into Jarry.
But most importantly, Letang, who for many seasons was an untouchable in Pittsburgh, no longer holds that title. Yohe puts him in the “The It Might be Time Division”, suggesting the Penguins made the decision to trade him.
“He’s still really good. Still maddening, but still really good. However, Letang is 33 now and has lost a quarter of a step, and the Penguins have identified his successor in Marino. Letang also makes a lot of money at $7.25 million annually. And remember, the salary cap isn’t budging. The Penguins are strapped.”
While giving those strong arguments for a blockbuster move including Letang, Yohe still thinks general manager Jim Rutherford won’t be tempted enough to ship him out.
“I don’t think Letang will be traded, nor do I think he should be. Replacing what he brings is difficult and unlikely, but it’s worth thinking about. He’s not going to age gracefully because his value is based far more on his legs than on his hockey IQ. Based on what Rutherford has said, however, he’ll probably stick around. Probably.”
Unless Rutherford gets an offer he simply cannot refuse and focuses on a major retooling.