The Pittsburgh Penguins have locked up their young, top defenseman Kris Letang with an eight-year $58 million contract. His contract begins with the 2014-2015 season and runs through to 2021-2022, averaging $7.25 million a year, making him the third highest paying defensemen behind Shea Weber ($7.86 million) and Ryan Suter ($7.54 million).
Yes, Krig Letang is talented; his stats speak for himself (209 points in 385 games) offensively and he does benefit by having two of the best players in the world out with him on the ice, but his defensive ability has raised a lot of question, especially after his performance against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals.
A finalist for the Norris Trophy, an award given to the best overall defenseman throughout a season, Letang was silenced in the series against the Bruins and their aggressive forecheck. Letang had a team worst -5 rating in the series and for the first two games he was on the ice for six of the nine Bruins’ goals.
Offensively he has contributed to the team, but when he’s jumping into the play and not on defense this is allowing the opposing team time and space to set up on the offense. He has got to be smart about when he wants to join the rush in the attacking zone.
$7.25 million for a blue-liner who has one Norris nomination and has never reached 60 points in a season. His style of play seems to be a double-edged sword, especially with the amount of giveaways he racks up.
Although he is still young and has time to develop, is Letang really worth his long-term contract? If he doesn’t begin to play defense his new contract should raise concerns for the Penguins.