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Insider Trading: Is there a future for Letang in Pittsburgh?

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TSN.ca Staff
6/18/2013 9:16:48 PM
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TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger gathered for the latest installment of Insider Trading and the topics discussed were Kris Letang's future in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier, getting New York Ranger Henrik Lundqvist a contract extension and the latest on the Rangers' thoughts on buying out Brad Richards.
 
With an $18.2 million cap hit tied up in Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, is Kris Letang's future in Pittsburgh cloudy or will it get cleared up shortly? 
 
Pierre LeBrun: Kent Hughes, the agent for Letang, lives in Boston so it would only make sense that with Penguins GM Ray Shero in Boston for the GM meetings on Wednesday that the two will meet in what could be a pivotal moment in terms of the future of Letang. He has a year left on his current deal but consider Shero's M.O.  here. A year ago when Jordan Staal rejected an offer from the Penguins, he was traded in about eight minutes. Well, it was about 48 hours but you get the drift. He's not going to let Letang go into next season, I don't think, as a potential unrestricted free agent for next summer. Either he signs him or I think he trades him. But let me tell you something; I don't think Kris Letang signs for less than $7 million a year and that might be a big ticket for Pittsburgh.
 
Is Jonathan Bernier the hot name right now on the market?
 
Bob McKenzie: No question about that. There are multiple teams talking to the Los Angeles Kings about the young goaltender who hasn't really gotten an opportunity to be the No. 1 goalie. It is now a luxury the Kings cannot afford. The Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs are among the teams that appear to be most interested. Some of the names that we're hearing are Matt Frattin out of Toronto and Matt Read out of Philadelphia. 
 
Darren Dreger: Bernier, Emery, Backstrom. You name it; there are a number of goaltenders on the list of the Flyers right now. The question is; does that mean automatically that Ilya Bryzgalov is getting bought out by the Flyers? Some say absolutely while others are more guarded and say not necessarily. What we're told is that he's not beloved in the dressing room, so to fix that issue the Flyers are going to have to consider their options. At the top of the list, especially in light of Mark Streit agreeing to the four-year, $21 million contract, is the cap issue and Bryzgalov could satisfy that with a buyout. 
 
LeBrun: One player for sure that the Flyers have told that they're buying out is Danny Briere. Briere had a meeting with GM Paul Holmgren last week where he told the player he was going to be bought out. Briere will be an unrestricted free agent hitting the market. Complicating the situation for Briere is that the single dad's kids are in Philadelphia, so it's a bit of a sensitive situation. But I'm told Briere thought Holmgren handled it with a lot of class.
 
How challenging will it be to get the New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist extended, and what kind of money will it cost?
 
McKenzie: It's going to be big money. Lundqvist is a franchise player and the Rangers rely heavily on him. Negotiations for a new contract have not started. He has a year left on his existing deal, but the Rangers want to get that locked up. It is expected that general manager Glen Sather and the agent for Lundqvist, Don Meehan, are likely to meet some time in or around the draft in Newark at the end of the month. What kind of money are we talking about? Well, Malkin just signed for $9.5 million per year extension and I think Lundqvist views himself as the same sort of franchise player with the Rangers. Now, the highest paid goaltender in the NHL is Nashville's Pekka Rinne at $7 million a year.  I'm sure the Rangers are going to say any dollar figure over $7 million means you're going to have a tougher time having Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Staal in front of you. Whatever money we spend on you is money we don't have for other people. But by the same token, I think they understand his value so it's going to be an interesting and fascinating dynamic to see how high the metre goes.
 
What's the latest on the potential contract buyout for Rangers' Brad Richards?
 
McKenzie: No decision has been made on the buyout but right now if I had to guess, I would suggest that the Rangers perhaps are going to wait a year on the potential buyout and see if Alain Vigneault can push the buttons to get his game back at a high level.
 
Does Pavel Datsyuk's extension mean Valtteri Filppula is unaffordable for the Red Wings?
 
Dreger: It seems that way. He's a pending unrestricted free agent and word on the street suggests that Filppula wants as much as $5.5 million per year on a mega-deal. Outside the organization - seven years, inside - eight years. That's too much.  
 
LeBrun: The Panthers are trying to sign Stephen Weiss but if he is not re-signed, he's perhaps a target for Detroit if Filppula walks.
Kris Letang (Photo: Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
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