Penguins re-sign Kris Letang to 6-year, $36.6 million contract

Kris Letang stays with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The team announced Thursday afternoon that it has re-signed the defender to a six-year contract totaling $36.6 million per season. That’s a salary cap of $6.1 million per season, which is actually lower than the $7.25 million on his previous deal and probably about $2 million less than he could have received in a few weeks on the open market.

Letang became eligible for unlimited free agency this summer.

“Kris embodies what it means to be a Pittsburgh Penguin,” said general manager Ron Hextall in a team statement. “The role he plays on our team is irreplaceable, he is a leader in our locker room and has made numerous contributions to the organization over the past 15 years, including three Stanley Cup championships. We are delighted to have a Penguin from him. make life.”

[Related: Free agency tracker: Full list of 2022 offseason signings]

The six-year term is an eye opener for a 35-year-old defender, but there are few things to consider here.

The first is that Letang is still an elite defender and is going to have one of the best seasons of his career.

He still finishes in the top-10 in Norris’s vote and is still one of the Penguins’ key players. As long as they still want to compete (and they clearly do; and should), he was by far their best option this off-season in a painfully thin free pick for defenders and with few assets to trade for a replacement.

Giving him a longer term also helped lower the salary cap, which is extremely important for the Penguins because they’re not just trying to re-sign another franchise icon (Evgeni Malkin), but also make the necessary improvements elsewhere on the roster. Getting a defender of Letang’s caliber for less than $6.5 million against the cap is a short-term bargain, regardless of his age.

[Related: Examining the Pittsburgh Penguins Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang situation]

Long-term, however good Letang still is and as fanatical as he is about his health and staying in shape, it seems extremely unlikely that he will actually play all six years of this deal. The NHL’s way these days is to stop players on LTIR when they reach that point in their career, and if the contract is pre-loaded in terms of actual salary, there is always the option to split the contract and cap hit when Letang is no longer productive (or playing) and the Penguins must hit the reset button on an actual rebuild.

It’s a long-term win for Letang to get a term, it’s a short-term win for the Penguins to keep a top defender on their roster, and it’s a win for the team to get a legacy player throughout his career playing with the squad.

Originally a third-round pick by the Penguins in 2005 (the same year they selected) Sydney Crosby No. 1 overall), Letang has played 16 seasons with the Penguins, appearing in 941 regular season games and scoring 144 goals and assisting with 506 for a total of 650 points. He was also a key player on three Stanley Cup winning teams in Pittsburgh.

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports† Give him a call [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @AGretz

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