Letang plans to spend rest of career with Penguins
To Kris Letang, there's no place he'd rather be than Pittsburgh, and that's why he wanted to make sure he'd be there for a long time.
The 26-year-old defenseman entered the offseason with one year remaining on his contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and on Tuesday he agreed to an eight-year extension worth $58 million. The new deal will begin in 2014-15.
As conversations progressed among Letang, Penguins general manager Ray Shero and agent Kent Hughes, Letang said there was no question how he wanted it to end up.
"It was about getting a deal done with Pittsburgh," Letang told the Penguins' website Wednesday. "I never looked at any other team or free agency or anything like that. It was settling on numbers and making sure I can spend the rest of my career in Pittsburgh."
The new deal could keep Letang in a Penguins uniform until he's 35. It contains a modified no-trade clause.
"I'm really happy for my family," he said. "For me, it's awesome to stay in a place like Pittsburgh where I can raise a family."
Letang, Pittsburgh's third-round pick (No. 62) in the 2005 NHL Draft, is entering the prime of his career. He was a finalist for the Norris Trophy in 2012-13 after leading NHL defensemen in assists (33) and tying for most points (38) despite missing 13 games with injuries.
The Montreal native hopes to impart some of his experience and knowledge to the Penguins' defensive prospects.
"If there's one thing I need to address for myself is taking more of a role in the locker room, becoming a bigger leader for our team and the younger guys coming," he said. "If we have a young guy like Simon [Despres], I'll try to help him out and make sure he gets better every day and is a better player to help our team win. We have a lot of talent in the system in Simon and all those draft picks that we have. We need to get them into the lineup as quickly as possible and make sure they contribute."
Letang said there are a lot of reasons he wanted to make a long-term commitment to the only NHL team he's played for.
"Everything, the city, the organization, my teammates played a big role in that," he said of re-signing. "From a standpoint of the organization, it's always been first-class. They always take care of us, from the medical staff to training staff to equipment guys, everyone is awesome in Pittsburgh. We have two great owners in Mario [Lemieux] and Ron [Burkle] that give us everything we need to be successful. It's a first-class organization from head to toe."