NEW YORK CITY – Penguins general manager Ray Shero continues to negotiate with defenseman Kris Letang, but the negotiations are starting to reach a decision point.
“There is a time to make a deal, time to sign a contract, agree on a contract or not agree on a contract,” Shero said. “There is a point in the negotiation where you have to make a decision. Kris is going to have to make one and so am I.
“I don’t have the crystal ball and I don’t know what will happen over the next 24 hours. We’ll see how the next day and a half goes. Both sides have to make some decisions. We’ll go from there.”
But Shero said the two sides didn’t have “more distance” as the negotiations have progressed. He also noted that even if a deal isn’t reached in the next few days, the team won’t necessarily trade Letang, which has been widely speculated in the media.
“That doesn’t mean if we don’t agree on a contract that he’s getting traded,” Shero said. “There’s no guarantee. Maybe you need a little break to see where it takes you.”
Other NHL teams have reached out to Shero regarding Letang’s rights. However, he isn’t entertaining any offers at this time.
“I can’t try to sign a guy and try to trade him at the same time. I’m going to try to sign him,” Shero said. “I’ve had a couple teams inquire. They read the paper. They ask to keep them in mind. I haven’t explored any of that. I don’t think that’s productive at this point. Our goal is to sign him.”
Letang, 26, was a finalist for the Norris Trophy this season as the NHL’s best defenseman after posting 38 points (5G-33A) in 35 games – the only blueliner in the league to average over a point per game.
“Kris Letang is one of the better defensemen in the league. He’s a Norris Trophy candidate this year and he’s 26 years old,” Shero said. “It’s trying to find the balance and the right hockey team, not only next year but moving forward. Kris is a tremendous player and his best days are ahead of him.
“It’s difficult to replace guys like that. I don’t want emotion to play in any factor because that’s not beneficial to anybody.”
One thing is certain: Shero will weigh all of his options and won’t be rushed into a decision. He will do what he thinks is right for the Penguins.
“He’s worth waiting on and making the right decisions,” Shero said of Letang. “There’s a time to make a deal, sign a player. There’s a time when it’s apparent that you can’t. That’s not apparent to me right now. We’ll continue to work on it and see where we go.”
Note: Shero said he has continued contract negotiations with free agents to be Matt Cooke, Pascal Dupuis and Craig Adams.