Thursday Morning Mashup: Letang Prefers Toronto?

Thursday Morning Mashup: Letang Prefers Toronto?

I think we can all agree that Leafs TV should have produced a PSA, prior to the off-season, indicating how to use an inflatable life-jacket.  Buckle-up, people.

GMs have now had some time to get a handle on the new reality created by the CBA. With the draft a little over 72 hours away, the rumours are abound and fans from every team will have their ears to the ground.

Yesterday, more news broke that the Leafs and Lightning were talking over a potential deal that got the league’s panties in a knot. Alec had it covered in this article.

Last night on TSN 1050 Game Night, Rob Rossi, a writer from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, joined Jim Tatti and Mike Hogan to talk about his thoughts on Kris Letang’s future.  Here’s what went down:

What’s your read on what’s happening in Pittsburgh?

I should stress that these things change potentially minute-by-minute, but the latest information I have is the Kris is a little bit curious about where he stands long-range in the Penguins’ plans. He’s read reports of mine that there are people within the organization that thought Paul Martin was the better defenseman last year and that there has been sort of a hesitation on a willingness to commit to him long-term at elite defenseman money.”

How does Toronto factor into this?

“Now, I should stress clearly that GM Ray Shero has been very public since the lock-out ended that he wanted to retain Kris Letang, but the Penguins have committed a lot of money to Crosby and Malkin, they’ve also committed NMCs to both of those players. They’re very deep in their system on defense and I’ve been told that if the Penguins couldn’t reach some sort of understanding with Letang, that Toronto has emerged as a preferred landing spot perhaps by Letang.”

How much would Pittsburgh ask for?

“It would be a place he’d be willing, if dealt, to perhaps sign a long-term deal and I know that the Penguins are going to want to deal with a team that can provide at least one roster player, in addition to a first round draft pick and a top prospect, if not two roster players. “

“They’re not looking to just get a third or a fourth line potential guy, they’d like to get roster players under contract that they think could fit in. The Leafs, over the years, have drafted players with great speed and that’s something the Penguins do – get faster – in addition to having guys under contract.”

Have the Leafs and Penguins talked?

“I don’t know that the Penguins and Leafs have had any discussions.”

If both parties can’t come to an agreement, what wold be the fallout?

“I believe that there would be a fairly intense bidding war for Kris Letang. We’re probably talking about the premier player that will be trying to negotiate a new contract, with the possibility of being traded in terms of the first guy to do that under the new CBA. The Penguins would only move him if they thought there would be significant return.”

How is this situation different from Jordan Staal’s situation last year?

“Now, the difference between the Letang and Staal situations was Staal told the Penguins that he wasn’t interested in signing a long-term deal because he wanted to go to FA, or he wanted to play for Carolina.”

“Letang has not told the Penguins that yet, and I can tell you his preference right now is to still try to work our something with the Penguins. This is where he wants to be, but he is at least considering where his other options could be in terms of where he wants to raise a young family.”

Why Toronto?

“Kris is used to playing a pretty big role on a high profile team, certainly a team like Toronto, especially with a coach like Randy Carlyle. I think Carlyle would suit Letang well if that was a fit. So, I think there are a lot of reasons why Letang would like the Maple Leafs if something doesn’t work out with Pittsburgh.”

What is your outlook for the Penguins’ roster?

“Eventually, Pittsburgh is going to have some sort of roster overhaul and it will probably be more obvious on defense. Pittsburgh is really among the deepest teams in terms of top-end prospects at the back-end. Now, that said, it’s my understanding that they’re interested in signing Orpik [and Despres] to extensions.”

Would they hold on to Letang?

“I do think there is a chance that Pittsburgh could hold on to Letang through the draft weekend. I don’t think they feel there is a player out there that they love so much that they have to go get a draft pick. There is, in Pittsburgh, an interest to see what the buyouts and [the draft] do to the NHL landscape.”

“The one thing I know about the Penguins is that there are only two untouchable players, Crosby and Malkin. One of the things that I think you’ll see in Pittsburgh, in coming years, is that eventually those guys will have to carry some younger players who might have talent but great inexperience. [Contrast this with] what’s been a fairly veteran group those two have played with for the first half of their careers.”

Why do some within the organization consider that Martin had a better season than Letang?

“Paul Martin had great metrics when you look at shut-down defensmen, he played more against top competition. That said, I don’t think they mean to say that Letang was a poor player last year and maybe they viewed that Martin gave them a little bit more consistency.”

“Letang, if you look at the metrics is about a top-70 players at his position in terms of the defensive defensemen. He is a number one, by most measures, when you look at offense, especially creating offense. Most of [Letang's] shifts end up in the other team’s zone. Among players who played 30 games last year, Letang was 2nd in his position in terms of  the shot-attempted differential. I think Kris Letang is a future Norris Trophy winner and a guy who replaced Jordan Staal as the number 3 of the Penguins’ the Big 3.”

What do the Penguins think of Letang?

“The Penguins know that Letang stands to make a lot of money on the open market. In a salary cap system, it’s really tough to pay three players potentially upwards of $7M a year. Kris Letang, at $3.75M a year, is a tremendous bargain.”

“So, can you commit to a long-term deal at major money for Letang and win a championship? I don’t know if the Penguins feel comfortable with that.  I think they’d like to see him score fewer points, but be a little bit sounder defensively. ” 

- – -

What do you guys think?

Would Letang be a good fit, and worth the price (both his acquisition, and the price of his new contract), given the Leafs have Gardiner and Rielly in the system? Would you give up one of those two + a roster player + a high pick to make this happen?

Have fun with this one…

- – -

Morning Links:

Tevez Owens: Patrick Kane parties with a unicorn head (PICS)Best believe that this kid is running Chicago right now.

Backhand Shelf: HometownThe Hawks weren’t always as visible as they are now and it sounds like they had their own version of Harold Ballard.

Larry Brooks (NYP): Leafs & Lightning, Buyouts, and CBA CircumventionBrooksie bursting our creative, speculative bubbles. He might have been the first to report on this.

Friedman (CBC): 30 Thoughts, NHL buyouts no sure thingICYMI, #12 is encouraging.

Siegel (TSN): Inside the Maple Leafs Draft ProcessMust read, Leafs fans.

A graduate student at Columbia University, Aaron is defined by a love of nature, an intense interest in finance, and a passion for the Blue & White. Toronto born and raised, earliest Leaf memories include emulating Joe Bowen calls and carpet mini-stick during HNIC. Former D1 NCAA Tennis player. Aaron can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mapleleafmuse.
502 comments
Cartsy
Cartsy

If Letang just turned down 56 million over 8 years, I don't want him.  Who does he think he is?

Boblav
Boblav

I like the path toronto is on. I like the way Gardner finished the season. I like letang's game and age, but I don't understand his salary demands. Maybe a contract that escalates as the cap does? I'd love to have him, but if I was going to commit that kind of cap space, I'd want someone like weber - someone who is dominant at both ends of the ice. Or better still - trouba or Murray because of their age and lower salaries. You look at the contracts of lyles, komisaric, gabrovski, and Connolly - they really tie your hands if you don't get it right. I,m not covincd that he,s worth the the term or the amount he turned down.

Claymish
Claymish

Say HELL NO to Letang. He is an injury risk, plus his point totals have more to do with having the top 2 players in the game on his team. I'm against $6.5 being paid to Phaneuf, even more so against paying that kind of money to Letang. Phaneuf at least brings more to the table than offence, but I wouldn't spend that kind of money either way. If it must happen I'm almost embarrassed to say all I would give up is Kulemin (for the Malkin connection) and Franson. That way we upgrade our speed from Franson to Letang, and in reality probably only have to pay him $2-$3 million more. Pittsburgh wins having Kulemin who will do fantastic with Malkin like they did overseas, and Franson will probably put up the same points as Letang because he will play more games.

Sic_Transit_Gloria
Sic_Transit_Gloria

One of my colleagues had an interesting take on the buyouts. He is saying that the process for compliance buyouts involves placing the player on waivers first... meaning toronto could pick lecavalier up on waivers before he can be bought out, leaving tampa with 50% of his cap hit and toronto with lecavalier for a cap hit of about 3.5 m. that's pretty solid... we could play him for a year and then buy him out.

so the question is, (if it's in the rules) would you use one of our compliance buyouts on lecavalier if it meant we could have him play for us for 1 year at the same cap hit as kuli/kadri have?

it's an interesting scenario...

.Kong.
.Kong.

Something huge is brewing boyz...  I'm certain.

.Kong.
.Kong.

Kris Letang is a straight up stud.  I would give my right testicle for Letang if I were Nonis.  Our team would INSTANTLY be an Elite team in the NHL no question.  If No-No can pull the rabbit out of the hat and land that 1C we've all been dreaming of, we're going to contend this coming year and next we'll be right there with the Chicago Blackhawks of the league.

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

Apologies, but I must again express my utter contempt for the NHL.  The decision to not permit the Lecavalier trade-buyout-resigning demonstrates, once again, that the league has only disrespect for its its flagship franchise.  This was a fair deal and one that assisted a franchise with a small fan base.  But I guess the NHL has to protect its integrity (snicker).  Of course, when the Rangers want to buy out Redden in January, contrary to the CBA which stated compliance buyouts were to happen now, well, the NHL couldn't change the rules fast enough. 

LeafsGuru
LeafsGuru

i bet if your an average player with a big contract, your thinking damn i shouldn't of listened to my agent. 

Grahamzky
Grahamzky

Lots of talk now about bringing in players like Lecavilier, Vokoun, Letang etc. Perhaps this a good idea?

What I don't see is how the Leafs would be able to afford these players (cap wise). The only way I see some of these players coming is if guys like Liles, Grabovski and Phaneuf are bought out or traded (most likely traded|). Would this be a step in the right direction?

From what I see, our Leafs don't have a whole lot of cap room. (unless moves are made)

Like others have said, love Letang, but already have others coming up like him, so would not be in favor of giving him a long-term big $$$$ contract. Of course, decent player, though!

Lecavilier, be careful, no long-term contract!

Sic_Transit_Gloria
Sic_Transit_Gloria

I couldn't agree more!! i know letang has his defensive deficiencies, almost everyone other than a couple players in the league do. but I can't get help but get blow-a-load-in-my-pants excited over the prospect of a defense corps that would look like:

Letang-Phaneuf

Gardiner-Franson

Gunnarson-Fraser

with reilly and liles as the guys in and out of the lineup

I think that gives us as good or better a d-corps as any other championship contender out there, including chicago, SJ, Boston, nashville, LA, NYR

i think we might have to give up gunnar in the letang deal though... just a feeling.

newkb
newkb

You are apologizing for recognizing a complete and utter screw job? On the contrary....I applaud you sir!

Sic_Transit_Gloria
Sic_Transit_Gloria

you're entitled to your opinion, but there's a lot of misunderstanding the facts there I think. First, I'm not positive, but i think reddens buyout was just a regular buyout, not one of the two compliance buyouts? again i could be wrong there.

The deal with lecavalier and the leafs was clearly circumventing the cap for one important reason, that lecavalier would then resign in tampa. it wasn't that he couldnt be traded for the point of buying him out, it's that he wouldn't then be allowed to go back to tampa. If the league allowed this I think it'd be anarchy, every big money team would do it and it wouldn't be fair. the point of the cap and cba is to implement parity in a non-financial-parity league. that would ruin it. good call on the NHL i'd say, there has to be some integrity to these dealings

theacs1966
theacs1966

@leafscapguru Ya, it's hard to feel sorry for someone like Luongo, he saw those first few seasons at 10 mil and now says his contract sucks.  Wish I had those problems.

happy_gilmour
happy_gilmour

@Grahamzky Lecavier probably isn't looking as much for $$$ now that he has $30 in the bank... think we should sit out Komi and save a buy out for next year when we know what the new cap will be and try and trade JML for a more D minded D

Sic_Transit_Gloria
Sic_Transit_Gloria

yes you pay the entire salary (not an issue for the leafs) but you split the cap hit.

right?

ShotgunCharlie
ShotgunCharlie

@Sic_Transit_Gloria And who was sent to Pittsburgh for Letang? Cause I see at least one player in your proposed defence core that would HAVE to go the other way in a trade for him

Sic_Transit_Gloria
Sic_Transit_Gloria

man i'm on the opposite side of this fence than a lot of you fellas, clearly.

the leafs didn't get screwed, and i don't see any double standard whatsoever. they didn't say everyone but the leafs can do this, it applies to everyone... how are the leafs treated differently in any way at all?

all that happened is the league confirmed that cheating in this way would be punished. anyone familiar with the CBA and the past history of what happens when you deliberately circumvent the intention of the CBA (see: NJ-Kovalchuk) should have been able to reason on that this would be cheating the rules.

how is it a screw job when the league confirms that "no toronto, you don't get to cheat the CBA because you have more money" if anything it enforces that the leafs are treated the same as every other team, not worse.

some crazy thoughts going on here IMO

TOHockeyNut
TOHockeyNut

@theacs1966 @MaxwellHowe IMO The NHL changed their minds and allowed 1 amnesty buy out before the season started because Montreal told Gomez to stay home and not report to camp. Mon was worried about injuries that would have prevented a buy out.

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@Sic_Transit_Gloria Where is the lack of integrity in the proposed Leafs/TB deal?  It was in accordance with the rules as stated.  And whats the big fuss about "parity"?  Do you really believe the salary cap is there to achive "parity"?  The cap is there to minimize costs and  maximize profits for the owners.  Thats it.

And frankly, if a few teams have a larger and more loyal fan base than pothers, shouldn't those fans be reqreded with a team that can invest more money in their roster?  Why should millions of Leafs fans have the same chance of seeing their team win as a few thousand Lightning fans?

mcloki
mcloki

@Sic_Transit_Gloria The League could have clarified and said that LEcavalier could only be traded back to the Lightning after one year. Yes there is a double standard when it comes to the treatment of the Leafs. 

Leafs rule
Leafs rule

@Sic_Transit_Gloriare, If the league allowed this I think it'd be anarchy, every big money team would do it,ohh hell yea,The rangers /phillie especially   would love this ,to easy imho

LeafsGuru
LeafsGuru

@theacs1966 @Grahamzky a complience buyout for komi would be a waste i would rather see them use it on grabo or jml if they cant move them

Sic_Transit_Gloria
Sic_Transit_Gloria

my internet searches seem to agree with you... now i can berate my colleague for the bad info, thanks.

Sic_Transit_Gloria
Sic_Transit_Gloria

what? is that a change in the rules or something? I think the TSN guys were the ones to originate this approach for the leafs to acquire lecavalier... are you sure picking a player up on waivers doesn't mean splitting the cap hit? it's that how it used to be and still is? (i'm not talking about salary here, just cap hit)

theacs1966
theacs1966

@4evrblue @leafscapguru @theacs1966 @Grahamzky JML should be a movable piece for someone lacking D, like Edm or Col, hold back a mil or so or add a 3rd for a 5th, something like that. Agree with Komi, he even got benched on the Marlies, he needs to go and have a chance somewhere, he has no chance of playing with the Leafs, might as well take the cap space cause Kessel is going to cost a pretty penny, or nickel since we don't use pennies anymore.

4evrblue
4evrblue

@leafscapguru @theacs1966 @Grahamzky I bet Komi doesn't think a buyout would be a waste. The guy wants to play and that contract is the only thing keeping him from getting a shot at doing that. I think NoNo has to show some respect and buy the guy out. He has been a professional throughout all the BS here, let him move on.