I read none of this thread, so if I'm being repetitive, whatever.
Take the reported asking price with a grain of salt unless you remember reading:
*Malkin would come in at 9.5, a 800K increase on his current AAV
*Crosby would come in at 8.7, the same AAV as his last deal
*Neal would come in at 5
*Dupuis would take 1.5 on his last deal
*Cooke would take 1.8 on his last deal
The reported number may be accurate, it may not. Regardless, there's a history of RS getting guys signed for less than anyone else thought. Doesn't guarantee it will happen with 58, but there's enough history there for me not to accept those numbers as gospel.
To me, this is Jordan Staal all over again. I'd bet Shero/Botteril have had a ballpark in mind since last year. If they can get him at that number, then he'll sign. If not, then you almost have to move him, because you can't lose an asset like that for nothing.
If he does go, getting a legit top 4 defenseman in return is an absolute must. Doesn't need to be an offensive guy, but would need to be an above average passer(Sorry Scuds) and have decent wheels. Perhaps the biggest issue on the Pens defense corps was that they only had 3 guys they really trusted with top 4 minutes: Letang, Orpik, and Martin. If you move 58, you're down to 2 and Orpik/Martin (both 34 IIRC) will be worn down by Xmas. Despres *might* be ready, but I'm not 100% sold. He couldn't crack the roster full time this year. I thought Niskanen was ready to move into a top 4 role this year, but he regressed a bit. The Pens have a bunch of great D prospects and Dumoulin might even be ready for some NHL work, but no one in the pool is ready for top 4 minutes. If they go into next year with
I get that Letang is prone to making some brutal, indefensible mistakes, but I also think some people get to focused in on them. Yes, when he's off, he can be pretty bad, but when he's on, he's absolutely dominant and can change a game with his skating. I know the Norris isn't the be-all and end-all for evaluating dmen, but his season was good enough to be a finalist. If Paul Martin, at 34, can improve on the horrendous year he had last year to the rock he was this season, I don't see why it's so hard for people to thing that at age 26, he's done improving. Surely he can "rebound" from this year.
Again, I'm not saying Letang is perfect. I'm not saying to pay whatever it takes to keep him either. But some act as though he's a turnover machine every night, with no redeeming qualities or any hope of getting better and that's simply not the case. If he was, you certainly wouldn't be able to deal him for anything of value. I wonder if a lot of the Letang hate is due simply to him being a favorite of the "puckbunny" crowd. Like, if he was dealt, that kind of fan wouldn't be around anymore. Who knows...