King Sid the Great 87 wrote:Let me step back and present my context for the entire Letang argument:
Malkin $8.7M (escalating to $9.5M)
James Neal $5M
Chris Kunitz $3.725M (escalating to $3.825M)
Paul Martin $5M
Thats 57.7% of next year's cap allocated to 6 players next year. The first two definitely aren't going anywhere. Fleury just got a vote of confidence, so I'll assume he isn't going anywhere. Neal is probably nearly untouchable. The ink is still wet on Kunitz contract, he's likely not going anywhere. Martin is the best bet of the group to move and I'd say that is unlikely given he was the only one last year (including Letang) who proved capable of handling the PP.
When your team is dealing with the cap, it's all about value. Is an "offensive defenseman" who hasn't proven himself capable of QBing a PP really providing value at $7M?
What is your context for a debate that signing Letang at $7M is worth moving the percentage of the cap allocated to 7 players up to 69%? Other than the fact that Bylsma doesn't trust any young players to find out if they can make it, I'm not sure what it is. His "upside"? A 35 game sample that may or may not be easily reproduced over the grind of an 82 game season?
Personally, I wouldn't mind keeping Letang if Shero moved Fleury. There's very few goaltenders that stand out. Fleury is middle of the pack amongst goaltenders and frankly the worst value on the team at his salary. But given the cap constraints the team faces, I don't see how fitting Letang in at $7M is the best route long-term. I'd have liked to have seen Despres get his feet wet with more responsibility this past season to mitigate some of the risk of not keeping Letang, but that didn't happen.
He's been the best defenseman on the team the past two seasons. Its not a 35-game sample. He's only 26, eats huge minutes, and plays all 3 facets of the game. His peer group is paid in the 6-7.5mm range, though he's the first to come to market in that group as a soon to be UFA.
The cap issues are obvious. But if you are willing to sign him for 6, then 7.25 is fine by me. Particularly because the unknown of replacing his skill set for this team is not worth the risk if an extra 1-1.5mm.