I'm going to track down Mikey's post on this because I find it the most eye opener on why he is valuable.
Importance now becomes inventory vs. acquirable assets if Letang does not have a future here.
You cannot settle in a situation like this. It is a franchise breaker to lose a #1 d-man of Letang's caliber. And I know we're a little salty because he's not Lidstrom and all that noise, and I respect that, he can be frustrating at times. I'm sure in 1983 some Oilers fan said somewhere, "we can't keep going on like this with Coffey...if only we had Langway..." Now, that's not comparing Letang to Coffey, but it's the idea of that #1 PMD. Note the effects on even the best player in the history of hockey:
Gretzky led the league in points for 8 straight seasons. In 1987 (the last year with Coffey on the Oilers), he led the league with 183 points, in second place was his linemate (Jari Kurri) with 108, then another teammate in Mark Messier at 107 and Mario Lemieux at 107. 71% more points than his next closest non-teammate.
Coffey leaves. Gretzky doesn't win the Art Ross for the first time that decade...his 149 points are still brilliant, but not only does it not need lead the league, it's barely above the pack, relative to Gretzky's previous exploits...Savard at 131, Hawerchuk had 121, Stastny at 111...in all that, 149 seems somewhat pedestrian (of course, he missed a few games, but still...). So, who led the league...Mario Lemieux with 168 points...and who was giving him the puck? Yup...weird. Coffey missed half the year, but was on a 119-point pace. Next season, healthy Coffey showed us what healthy Lemieux could do (that was Lemieux's 199 points in 76 games season).
Again, Letang is no Coffey. He's no Orr either (look at Esposito, with and without). But that's the importance to an offensive-minded team.
To give that away for a draft pick is ridiculous. I can't answer what it would exactly take, but I know what I wouldn't like back...there's no answer in this draft as far as I'm concerned. I don't care for Seth Jones all that much (really good, but not Letang good by any stretch) and the rest of the d-men largely have some sort of glaring weakness.
Now, is it essential for this organization to be getting another d-man of quality back? Well...what do we have...can Derrick Pouliot or Olli Maatta (namely, the former) do anything to help our cause...? I don't know that yet. It's a shame he won't turn pro next year where we could get a better idea of what we really have...that's a bold move to trust the organization's hopes to a draft pick that no one here likes because of a made-up number. To me, he reminds me of Brian Campbell when he was young. That's a #1 PMD. Will he ever reach that lofty status, I don't know, I wish I did, Shero wishes he did too.
But depending on the market we might have to make that leap of faith...eventually...
In any event though, it's not totally realistic for now. The team has a window in which to win and it's wide open. Now is not the time to be entrusting the keys to castle to a 19 year old. Now is also not the time to be moving your #1 PMD for a hill of magic beans...
The problem with a player like Letang and the whole situation is you never get back full value for what you gave up. There's no realistic scenario where we trade Letang for Doughty or Letang for Pietrangelo...it's not a video game. That can't happen.
Like you brought up with Jordan Staal, you settle a little bit (Sutter, a third liner) and you get a draft pick (hope to make up the difference). We noticed Staal's departure this year and the effect it had (well, hopefully we did...Staal did a lot of heavy lifting for us, with all due respect to Sutter)...that was a third line center for us...can you imagine the difference between having a #1 d-man and not having one!
The Flyers notice...Kimmo Timonen (their Paul Martin) had to lead their transition attack...second in line were Luke Schenn (can't pass) and Braydon Coburn (head up ass)...now look at their ES scoring from 2011 and 2012 to 2013...can't be an offensive team and not have a #1 PMD. I'm gonna say that about 250 to 400 times this summer I think on here, so I better copy and paste it now, but you can't do it...
I don't want to lose the asset, I don't want to lose the asset for nothing, but it's a tough piece to move if a reasonable deal can't be worked out...we might just have to let it ride and hope we win the Cup in 2014.