NEWARK, New Jersey – The Penguins and defenseman Kris Letang have made progress in discussions on a contract extension, but still have some work to do.
“It’s simpler enough to say we’re just not done yet,” Penguins general manager Ray Shero said at the 2013 NHL Draft in New Jersey on Sunday. “Still working on it with his agent. We haven’t had time to get together today with the draft. I’ll talk to him a little later (Monday) and try to work through a couple of things and get back at it.”
Letang, 26, has one-year remaining on his current contract valued at $3.5 million. The Norris Trophy nominee as best defenseman in the NHL will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the upcoming season, and the Penguins have made no secret of their desire to lock him up long term.
“He’s a real good defenseman for us. He’s at the right age. I hope that’s going to be the case,” Shero said of an extension.
Shero wouldn’t divulge any details on what aspects of the contract need to be worked on because the negotiations are still ongoing.
“I had a meeting with (Letang’s) agent (Saturday) afternoon and later that night when we chatted again it turned more positive,” Shero said. “This morning we were trying to wrap a few things up, but we’re still not there yet. We just took a little break. We’ll get back at it and see if we can close the gaps here and there and see where we are.
“It usually comes down to the money and the term. There are things we still need to work on. We’ll see where it takes us.”
The Penguins also are in discussions with other upcoming unrestricted free agents currently on their roster. One player in particular the Penguins would like to re-sign is forward Pascal Dupuis, who enjoyed one of the best years of his career with 20 goals in 48 games. He’ll be looking for a significant raise from his current $1.5 million salary.
“He’s an important piece of our team that I’d like to have back,” Shero said of Dupuis. “The money and the term have to fit both parties. We’re still not there yet. We’ll continue to work on it. We’d like to have him back, if at all possible.”
The Penguins will have exclusive negotiating rights Monday and Tuesday with their UFAs. On Wednesday, July 3, players are open to talk to any team, although a contract cannot be signed until Friday, July 5. The open negotiating period is a new aspect this season.
“We’ll talk to the unrestricted guys that we still have,” Shero said. “I had a conversation with Craig Adams last week and his agent. We have a few days here until July 3rd when they can start talking to other teams. We’ll see where we go and continue our discussions.”
The Penguins did make one change to their current roster. They traded forward Tyler Kennedy to San Jose in exchange for a second-round pick (50th overall).
“Tyler Kennedy has done a great job for us and helped us win a Stanley Cup. I really think with where he is in his career, he needed a change,” Shero said. “We didn’t have a first- or second-(round) pick. There were several teams with interest in him. San Jose had the best second-round pick on the table. We did that for both us and Tyler.”