The Pittsburgh Penguins announced Tuesday they've agreed to terms with defenseman Kris Letang on an eight-year, $58 million contract extension.
It begins with the 2014-15 season and runs through 2021-22, with an average annual value of $7.25 million. Letang has one season remaining on his current contract at $3.5 million.
"[It's an] exciting day," Penguins general manager Ray Shero said Tuesday. "We've seen [Letang] mature into one of the best defenseman in the League."
Letang, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have signed or agreed to terms that can keep them with the Penguins at least through the end of the decade.
Letang, 26, is coming off his best NHL season. He finished third in balloting for the Norris Trophy after leading defensemen in assists (33) and tying Norris winner P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens for most points (38). Letang's 1.09 point-per-game average was best among defensemen.
"He’s a very important player for us. He’s getting better as a defenseman,” Shero said. “His best days are ahead of him. It’s fortunate for us that we can sign him and keep him playing for the Penguins.”
The Penguins and Kent Hughes, Letang’s agent, negotiated last week, but the final details weren't worked out until Tuesday.
“I think it was Saturday night, it was apparent we were trending towards making a deal; the same thing Sunday morning,” Shero said. “We had to get into finalizing structure and payments of the contract over the eight years. Going back and forth on that was important to the team and the player. Usual stuff.”
One item that took some time was the language on the modified no-trade clause that is part of the contract. A modified no-trade clause gives the player some flexibility in determining his destination in the event of a trade. Several Penguins have such clauses in their contracts, including Chris Kunitz, Marc-Andre Fleury and Paul Martin -- only Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have full no-trade clauses.
“They give you a certain amount of teams in the event of a trade at some point,” Shero said. “It was just getting the language right and making sure both sides were happy with that, the structure. Once you get that done it was pretty quick.
“With the modified no-trade contract, there’s some new language in there that needed to be OK’d by the League.”
Letang was a member of the Penguins' 2009 Stanley Cup team and a two-time NHL All-Star (2011, 2012). During the past three seasons, he is first among NHL defensemen with 107 assists and fourth with 130 points in 168 games. His 0.77 point-per-game average is second to Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators (0.79).
Letang, the Penguins' third-round pick (No. 62) in the 2005 NHL Draft, has 44 goals, 209 points and a plus-42 rating in 385 regular-season games. He has 13 goals and 47 points in 80 playoff games. His goals and points are second among Penguins defensemen to Hall of Fame member Larry Murphy.