Letang, who was a finalist for the Norris Trophy (losing out to P.K. Subban) this season has one year remaining on his current deal and, like Malkin, can sign an extension after July 1st. With the Sidney Crosby and Malkin contracts set to eat $18.5M of cap space after next season (with an unknown Salary Cap), speculation is that Letang might be the odd man out. He hasn’t expressed willingness to take a deep hometown discount that would be required to remain with the Penguins. Apparently he has seen the contracts the big two have signed and he will be looking for market value.
Likely looking for (and proabably going to get) upwards of $6M or $7M per year on a long term deal, now could be the time Letang gets shopped, much like Jordan Staal did at the draft last year.
If this does indeed happen, the Ottawa Senators need to be at the front of the line for Letang. Imagine a first pairing of Marc Methot and Erik Karlsson and a “second” unit of Jared Cowen and Kris Letang. Then a first power play unit that has Letang and Karlsson manning the points. The only foreseeable problem with that being too many right handed shots on the first unit, but that can be solved with some creativity.
Letang, in my opinion, is a Karlsson clone, just a little less offensively skilled but with a little more mean streak. If the Senators could land him it wouldn’t be cheap, but he is the type of player worth giving up some assets for. Obviously they would want to be certain that he would sign an extension in Ottawa before parting with too much and then losing him after a year, but it would be worth the price. Then you have some insurance if one of them go down with injury like happened this year. The Senators would be the best team in the league at getting the puck out of their own end with Leatang and Karlsson, and both are not even in their prime yet.
Obviously the price would not be cheap, probably on par with what Jordan Staal netted last summer or more. Staal was dealt for a player (Brandon Sutter), a top prospect (Brian Dumoulin) and a first round pick. Those are assets that the Senators have and if the deal is available, need to pull the trigger. They have the cap space and the prospects to do it. The Senators could offer him a matching deal to Karlsson’s $6.5M cap hit and skate off into the sunset with two of the top 5 defensemen in the league.
There is some precedent for having two elite defensemen dating back to the Al MacInnis/Gary Suter, Al MacInnis/Chris Pronger, Chris Chelios/Gary Suter, Nicklas Lidstrom/Brian Rafalski and Shea Weber/Ryan Suter days. Two elite defensemen can co-exist, and excel on the same team. The Senators need to do what they can to make it happen.