Penguins looking to make big splash after NHL trade freeze ends

During Hockey Night in Canada the panel discussed Auston Matthews talking about his concussion symptoms, the Pittsburgh Penguins and testing the trade market and when Hockey Canada will announce the rosters for the Olympic team.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins are three points out of a playoff spot, and the team’s struggles has general manager Jim Rutherford considering a roster shakeup once the NHL trade freeze is lifted after Dec. 27.

“One name that I do hear out there that is being bantered about is Kris Letang,” Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported during the Headlines segment Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada.

Kypreos explained that “Pittsburgh would love to shed some salary” and trading Letang would certainly be one way of doing that. The 30-year-old Montreal native has four years remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $7.25 million.

“Kris Letang has had a horrible season so far,” Kypreos added. “Certainly hasn’t regained some of that magic he had prior to being hurt [midway through] last season.”

Letang only suited up for 41 games during the 2016-17 campaign and missed all of the playoffs as he recovered from neck surgery. Through 37 games this season, Letang has two goals, 23 assists, 30 penalty minutes and a minus-15 rating.

According to Kypreos, the fact the Penguins managed to win a Cup without having Letang at their disposal this past spring would make trading the blueliner more palatable for Rutherford.

Letang has been with the Penguins organization since being selected in the third round of the 2005 NHL Draft.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman chimed in by saying if the Penguins were to deal Letang they would in all likelihood want a pair of forwards in return. Friedman also said pending unrestricted free agent defenceman Ian Cole and his $2.1-million cap hit is still out there as a potential trade candidate.