Just like Jordan Staal a year ago, Pittsburgh is receiving inquiries about potential restricted free agent defenseman Kris Letang.
The Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues and Edmonton Oilers are among 4-5 teams to have their eye on Letang, with league speculation rampant that the Penguins would move Letang for the right offer to enhance their chances of signing Sergei Gonchar.
However, team sources say Pittsburgh’s asking price is higher than the “Ryan Whitney” asking price from last year. For Pittsburgh to even consider moving Letang it’s going to take a young-to-mid 20’s impact winger and a top prospect.
Regarding contact talks, Penguins and Kent Hughes the agent for Letang remain far apart on a new deal. The two sides began preliminary talks in early December and there is no urgency from either side at this point. Pittsburgh will put off talks until after the season if a deal is not struck before the trade deadline.
*A surprising Penguins forward is being rumored as a candidate who could be traded this winter.
The Hockey News recently speculated that Maxime Talbot is the most likely Penguin to be dealt before the trade deadline.
I can confirm that despite Talbot’s struggles, he is valued around the league, but, anyone connected with the Penguins I’ve talked too indicate any talk of the Penguins moving Talbot is premature.
Ray Shero values leadership and I don’t see Talbot going anywhere unless he’s moved as part of a deal that lands Pittsburgh a targeted top-6 winger.
Impact of Sergei Gonchar
Injuries continue to follow Sergei Gonchar but there is no denying the impact he has on the Penguins winning.
Since 2008-2009, Pittsburgh is 37-12-5 with Gonchar in the lineup while the Penguins are 35-32-5 without Gonchar.
Penguins trying to lower expectations for Luca Caputi
With Pittsburgh lacking consistency on the wings, expectations are high for Luca Caputi to fill a much needed void. The Penguins to some extent are trying to lower expectations.
The big test for Caputi will be the grind of the upcoming schedule. In the AHL, there are more practices than games and sometimes teams are lucky to play three games a week.