Scratch Kris Letang’s name from the list of possible available defencemen, after the pending restricted free agent came to terms on a tentative eight-year, $58-million contract extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins, according to RDS.
Letang has one year remaining on his current contract that will pay him $3.5-million (all figures in U.S. currency). Once Letang’s contract is finalized, the Penguins will have $25.45-million committed in annual salary-cap charges for their three top players.
Centre Evgeni Malkin signed an eight-year extension with an annual salary-cap hit of $9.5-million earlier this year, while Sidney Crosby was locked up, pre-lockout, at an annual cost of $8.7-million.
Last week, Letang had turned down a contract extension worth $54-million over eight years, leading to speculation that if a deal couldn’t be worked out, the Penguins might shop him.
As it turned out, they now have their three cornerstone players locked up for the long term, but without getting a home-town discount from Letang, who was a Norris Trophy finalist this year and finished tied with the Montreal Canadiens’ P.K. Subban for the point-scoring lead among NHL defencemen, with 38. Letang managed that in just 35 games compared to 42 for Subban.
The Penguins were willing to tie up all those dollars in three players, on the assumption that the NHL salary cap will once again rise for the 2014-15 season, after it was reset back to $64.3-million for the upcoming year.