Might be tough to re-sign Gonchar after this season with Letang's cap hit at $3.5 million...

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Penguins Sign Defenseman Kris Letang to Four-Year Contract

Tuesday, 03.30.2010 / 9:30 AM / News
Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed defenseman Kris Letang to a four-year contract extension, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The new contract goes into effect at the start of the 2010-11 season and will run through 2013-14. Letang, 22, has played 211 career NHL games in three-plus seasons with Pittsburgh, totaling 79 points on 21 goals and 58 assists.

This season, the 6-foot, 201-pound defenseman has set a new single-season career high with 24 assists while recording 27 points. Letang has seen his role expand with added time on the team’s power play and penalty killing units. He ranks second among the Penguins’ defensemen (and third overall) with an average of 21:30 minutes per game.

Letang was a major contributor to the Penguins’ 2009 Stanley Cup championship. During Pittsburgh’s title run, Letang was the NHL’s third leading scorer among defensemen with 13 points (4G-9A). His shining moment occurred in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Washington. Letang nearly missed the game with an injury, but suited up and scored the overtime winning goal (his first career playoff goal) to help the Penguins avoid a 3-0 series deficit, and inject the team with new life.

The Montreal, Quebec native was originally drafted by the Penguins in the third round (62nd overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Letang saw his first NHL action at just 19 years old when he appeared in seven games and scored two goals for the Penguins during the 2006-07 season.

Letang won back-to-back gold medals with Canada at the 2006 and 2007 World Junior Champions, and was captain of the 2007 team. He was named one of Canada’s top three players on the 2007 squad after tying for second in tournament scoring among defensemen with six points (6A).

With today’s signing, the Penguins now have locked up a strong core of their young players. The Penguins now have mulit-year contracts with Sidney Crosby (through 2012-13), Jordan Staal (2012-13), Evgeni Malkin (2013-14), Brooks Orpik (2013-14) Letang (2013-14) and Marc-Andre Fleury (2014-15).
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Penguins, defenseman Letang agree on 4-year extension

By Rob Rossi, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Last updated: 10:53 am

Defenseman Kris Letang has signed a four-year extension with the Penguins worth an annual average salary of $3.5 million.

Letang was set to become a restricted free agent on July 1.

The extension makes him the second-highest-paid defenseman under contract for next season. The Penguins also have Brooks Orpik ($3.75 million) and Alex Goligoski ($1.833 million) under term.

Letang's deal does not buy out a year of unrestricted free agency, as is often preferred by the team on long-term deals.

However, the team has made exceptions for players entering restricted opportunity, as was the case last season with center Jordan Staal's four-year extension worth $16 million.

What Letang's deal does for top defenseman Sergei Gonchar is unclear. Gonchar can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and negotiations with the Penguins have been put on hold until after the season per an agreement between the team and his agent, J.P. Barry.

Term is a believed sticking point with Gonchar, who is seeking a deal of more than two years. He also has not committed to accepting less than his current $5 million average salary.