SOG: 49 | +/-: 2
Now that Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin has signed a long-term, big-money contract, joining company with forwards Sidney Crosby and James Neal, salary cap space is evaporating quickly for the talent-rich club, which will next turn their focus toward negotiating a deal with top defenseman Kris Letang.
Letang, 26, was one of the NHL's best on the blue line during the 2012-13 season, with five goals, 38 points, and a plus-16 rating in 35 games. He's set for unrestricted free agency at the end of the 2013-14 season.At the moment, it's unclear how the eight-year, $76 million contract the Penguins signed Malkin to on Thursday will affect their willingness to spend on Letang, but it's safe to say crafting a deal won't be made any easier. Between Malkin, Crosby and Neal, Pittsburgh already has more than $23 million in salary tied up for 2014-15.