Thursday Morning Mashup: Letang Prefers Toronto?

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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.

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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.
  • mapleleafmuse

    Good morning gents

    • Burtonboy

      mapleleafmuseMorning Aaron. Interesting all of a sudden a lot of guys wanna play in Toronto eh. Bernier seemed super excited and now this Letang stuff. Times have changed and players are talking notice. I’ve said for over a yr this team is further ahead then its givne credit for. The players know something a lot of others seem to not want to admit ?

    • Mind Bomb

      mapleleafmuse  Morning Aaron

      • mapleleafmuse

        Good morning MB and BB. I think you’re right and it seems like an awakening of sorts for MLSE. Maybe players see that something good is happening here and it’s something they want to be involved with.

        • Burtonboy

          mapleleafmuse Starting to look that way . Nash ans Richards can suck it lol

        • Mind Bomb

          Burtonboy mapleleafmuse Winning is one thing, The Isles won last year to, I think the Leafs have assembled a Young core of Elite talent, other players see the potential for a Cup. Now we just have to be very careful with who we over pay for :)

        • mapleleafmuse

          Nash would have been sweet but those two players are water under the bridge. What’s your take on this? Would you do it?

        • Burtonboy

          mapleleafmuse Its worth looking into for sure if the Pens can’t re-sign him. Man there’s a lot of stuff to consider to make that move though. Cap ,cost to acquire, and does he fit into what we are trying to build considering we have Gardiner and Reilly already .

        • mapleleafmuse

          You know what I found interesting, how Rossi cited zone starts, QoC, and Corsi metrics in his evaluation of Letang. The Leafs have some nice pieces assembled and a winning team is taking shape. I think Bell and Rogers are intent on making the Leafs championship-calibre right now. Let’s also not forget window of opportunity we have given how old Kessel and Lupul are.

        • Mind Bomb

          Burtonboy mapleleafmuse  I think he does BB. It did not hurt Chicago with all those Puck movers 😉
          its the Cost to acquire !

        • Burtonboy

          Mind Bomb Burtonboy mapleleafmuse You would be foolish not to a tleast take a look at this

        • Mind Bomb

          Burtonboy Mind Bomb mapleleafmuse Aye bro, but at first glance Pit may want a Forward, and I dont Think a UFA Kulie is going to get it done, we have Colburne and a 1st as trade bait.
          Think Kulie, Colburne and a 1st. ???

        • Burtonboy

          Mind Bomb Burtonboy mapleleafmuse They want speed accordingto Rossi .Would they be interested in Grabo +

        • Mind Bomb

          Burtonboy Mind Bomb mapleleafmuse To much CAp to them for a 3rd line center, although with the amount of Injuries that Crysby and Malkin have getting a another Center wouldnt hurt, like say Kadri. It would suck if Kadri was the starting point to Conversations lol

        • Mind Bomb

          Burtonboy Mind Bomb mapleleafmuse To much CAp to them for a 3rd line center, although with the amount of Injuries that Crysby and Malkin have getting a another Center wouldnt hurt, like say Kadri. It would suck if Kadri was the starting point to Conversations lol

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ Radar O’Rielly

    Wait a year and sign him as a UFA.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ Radar O’Rielly

    Wait a year and sign him as a UFA.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ Radar O’Rielly

    Good Morning Everyone

    • Mind Bomb

      Radar O’Rielly  Morning Mr R.

  • JMAC17

    Getting him would be great, but it would trigger a pretty major overhaul of the team.
    Kadri, Loops, JVR, Gardner, Reilly all need to be with this team.  Everyone else is fair game to me.
    Although trading Dion would be a mistake IMO, Letang doesnt replace him.

  • KurtWhite

    Id like to change my vote for best leaf of all time on the side of the page to kris letang

  • Dink

    You got to remember he plays with best offence in the league garnishing his points..I think he would have a hard time on another team but you never know…

    His big money raise may be entirely on who he plays with…

    • Dink

      I also believe any deal would have to include Reimer (Pittsburghs goalies are fading)

      • Dink

        -Keon- I think Penguins have always wanted Kulemin too..
        so Kulemin, Reimer and a 2nd is probably what they are looking at…

    • Dink

      I also believe any deal would have to include Reimer (Pittsburghs goalies are fading)

  • Mind Bomb

    -Keon-  Lol, everyone in Quebec has a collective whine, after reading that about Letang choosing the leafs, MTL not even mentioned. 
    Gotta be PK, no one wants to play with him lol

    • Mind Bomb

      -Keon-  But its pretty simple really, Letang just wants to play and Learn from the Best so he chose Phaneuf to Buddy up to. 
      Good Choice Kris

    • Mind Bomb

      -Keon- Ya, what he said Frog fans !

  • Maple Leafs Creed

    https://twitter.com/RenLavoieRDS
    If Kris Letang has to be traded by Penguins, he does NOT have a preferred destination. https://twitter.com/search?q=%23RDS&src=hash
    https://twitter.com/search?q=%23RDS&src=hash
    Sounds like this Habs reporter is jealous that Letang doesn’t wanna go to the Habs

    • Mind Bomb

      Maple Leafs Creed  Hahhah New it, here we go, perfect time to go to the Hab Boards :)

    • Uncle Otis

      Maple Leafs Creed 
      I guess Lavoie only searched the French Google  for news.
      En Anglais…quelle surprise tabernac!

    • Cameron19

      Maple Leafs Creed And Jordan Staal didn’t prefer to play with Eric, either.

  • Dink

    You guys really think Letang is worth the money he is looking for?

    • Mind Bomb

      @Dink  The Money, yes. Chicago looked good with all kinds of Mobility on the Back end. Now I am against the Cost to aquire in a trade UJC, Yikes.