Nearly four weeks after being swept by the New York Islanders in embarrassing fashion, top decision makers among the Penguins brass are said to be on the same page or at least in the same hemisphere as one source put it regarding Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel.

As mentioned recently, there’s intrigue among Penguins GM Jim Rutherford & Co to at least see if a feasible trade is out there for Malkin, while rival clubs continue to operate with the mindset that it’s a foregone conclusion Pittsburgh will look at every avenue to trade Phil Kessel and they’ve heard this directly from the Penguins themselves.

Kris Letang, the third member among the core whose future in Pittsburgh has greatly mulled over by the organization, seems to be a bit of a different story.

There are members in the organization, many in the analytic crowd who will die on the hill that Letang is irreplaceable and believe it’s nonsense to trade a player of his talent.

Elsewhere, there’s said to be a great divide among different members of the coaching staff and the front office regarding Letang.

Some talk around the league is in the immediate aftermath of the round 1 ouster, teams believed Rutherford was leaning into the direction that for the Penguins to actually change the way they play, Letang has to be moved this summer.

A couple weeks later now and you start to hear some push back on that but the Penguins are certainly going to at least gauge the market for Letang as the team owes it to themselves.

Letang is immensely talented, has a great care level and is arguably one of the top-10 talented (from a talent perspective) defenseman in the game.

That, however, doesn’t make him one of the top-10 d-men in the game that many in the Pittsburgh media try to peg him as.

He’s not and he’s not even close to one.

That’s why internally the Penguins are having honest discussions about whether being different without Letang like the team was in their 2017 Stanley Cup run and this season in Letang’s absence is enough to draw from in reshaping this roster.

The biggest mystery of all surrounding Letang that we’ll find out in the next six weeks:

With the recklessness in play, the contract and the neck injury that scares quite a few teams, is there any team out there willing to pay close to a premium for Letang?

In gathering information on Letang from evaluators, a consensus has emerged in that Letang could be a great gamble for a team that needs an elite level puck moving defenseman, but most importantly already has a No. 1 shutdown defenseman in place, where as, Letang could slide into a No. 2 pairing role.

Multiple NHL sources last week pegged To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”! lines up as a great situation for Kris and a win-win for both sides,” an NHL source said.

Kris Letang, 2019 4th round pick to [hide] Montreal
Jeff Petry, 2019 2nd round pick (CLB) to Pittsburgh

The Canadiens have Shea Weber in place to play the No. 1 pairing, tough minutes on the right side, which would free Letang up in a second pairing role. If your Montreal, you hate to give up Jeff Petry who flourished last season as a do-it all, all-around defenseman, but there’s intrigue here to gamble on Letang’s elite level offensive ability to give you that needed jolt in the transition, puck moving game, and hope that playing under Claude Julien and a new system can tone down the recklessness in his game.

Letang on a personal level is loved by members of the Penguins organization, including ownership. Trading him to Montreal would be doing him right.

Adding Letang would still give the Canadiens wiggle room under the cap to chase Matt Duchene or another high-level center they seek on the open market.

Jeff Petry | Age 31 | Cap hit: $5.5 million (Signed Through 2020-2021)
18-19 Stats: 13 Goals – 33 Assists – 46 Pts – -5 – 23:07 TOI
5 vs 5 | 28 Pts – 55CF% – 50GF% – 53.8SCF% [/hide]

For a Penguins team that wants to become a more structured and smarter team defensively in 2019-2020, To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”! is the perfect kind of defenseman without having to break the bank that you should be strongly looking at. He’s a puck moving defenseman with good size, skates well, drives possession and his game has taken off the last two years in emerging as an all situations defenseman.[hide] Petry has earned high praise from scouts for how he’s evolved into a responsible 2-way defenseman with ‘elite level’ ability in defending the neutral zone, one scout noted, while also seeing an uptick in offensive numbers in an elevated role since the 2017-2018 season. Scouts say Petry’s minus-30 rating in 2017-2018 was nowhere near reflective of how he actually played that season.

Petry is not Kris Letang from a skill and producing offense standpoint, but he fits the bill of the type of defensemen the Islanders, others succeeded with this season. Defensemen that don’t do anything great but do everything well and that’s really what the Penguins need moving forward.

Back-to-back 40 point seasons, Petry has been above 50% in driving possession over the last four seasons.

15-16 54.6%; 16-17 54.4%; 17-18 52.0; 18-19 55.0%

What would also be enticing for the Penguins here is the $1.75 million in cap savings and two years being left on Petry’s deal compared to three years for Letang. This is a summer where every dollar against the cap has to be maximized for the Penguins.

Trade Scenario #2 | Going the Cap Relief Route

A General Manager who has already checked in with the Penguins on Kris Letang is Sabres GM Jason Botterill and few around the league are surprised by this. With Zach Bogosian needing hip surgery, Buffalo is primed to take a long look at Letang, NHL execs contend.

Botterill thinks the world of Letang as a person and player and in a do or die year for the GM, Buffalo tops the list of teams that should gamble on Letang. The pressure is on Botterill, he can’t be making future moves anymore. He has to get in the playoffs to save his job.

You have a situation in Buffalo where they have that long-term franchise caliber defenseman in place in Rasmus Dahlin, a top-2 pairing puck mover in Brandon Montour entering prime and adding Letang would give Buffalo that true third difference maker (offensively) on the backend that could also open the door to trading Rasmus Ristolainen for coveted No. 2 center, something Botterill had on the table at the deadline but eventually pulled back.

Hiring the defensive minded guru Ralph Krueger, who has emerged as the favorite in Buffalo, could also add a wrinkle in Buffalo that Krueger could be the coach and change of scenery situation where changes to Letang’s game for the better could be implemented.

From Pittsburgh’s end, they shouldn’t be against taking a futures deal for Letang and Buffalo’s the team to look at it.

Buffalo owns two first round picks. League sources say Botterill has pressure to move the Sharks first round pick for immediate help in 2019-2020.

For Jim Rutherford, though, if you went the futures and cap relief route in trading Letang, the priority should be on adding a talented NHL ready prospect who can help and potentially flourish right now than a late first round pick as the main piece to a deal.

In this scenario, Alexander Nylander, a 2016 1st round pick (8th overall) who the Sabres brass has started to sour on is the type of talented player Pittsburgh should be looking at to[/hide] plug on the right wing in the top-6 on an entry level deal for the next two years with a likely departure of To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!