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Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Should the Oilers be interested in Kris Letang?

Sportsnet’s Saturday Headlines is always must-see television. This week, Sportsnet’s insiders discussed the Pittsburgh Penguins looking to make a big move. They’re three points out of a playoff spot, and Kris Letang might be available.

Letang makes a lot of money. He has four more years left at $7.25 million per year. Nick Kypreos cites shedding salary and their Stanley Cup win without Letang as reasons Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford would be comfortable trading the offensive defenceman. Elliotte Friedman says they’d be looking for two impact forwards, a centre and a winger, although, health is a big concern in any talks around Letang.

Edmonton’s need for a puck-moving, right-handed defenceman is still there. Adam Larsson is capable of playing a top four role on the right side, but Edmonton lacks another right-handed option to compliment their talented left-handed defenceman. Kris Russell and Matt Benning are better suited to third-pairing roles. Letang would solidify the Oilers defence, giving them an offensive option they haven’t had on the blueline in years.

Oct 19, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson (6) takes a shot against the Chicago Blackhawks during a game at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve written about the Oilers and Erik Karlsson here, but Letang is different. He’s signed long-term and doesn’t need the mega contract Karlsson does. The shedding salary comment makes me wonder if Pittsburgh just wants to get rid of Letang’s and his injury issues and cap hit and fill out their forward depth in the process. This doesn’t mean he’ll get traded for two bums, but this could be a winnable trade.

Presumably, the Penguins would want to send him out West. There’s only so many teams that can take on Letang that don’t already have big money committed to their right side or defense in general, and you wouldn’t want Letang coming back to haunt you in conference or division. Vegas and Vancouver would be two other options in the West, but both aren’t in win-now mode like Edmonton is.

If the Penguins want a centre, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the only logical name but his $6-million cap hit wouldn’t help shed much salary. Pittsburgh might want younger, cheaper options than the Oilers have. Still, you can find good centres and wingers. 25-minute defencemen? Not so easy.

Letang’s injury issues are troubling. He’s played every game this season but dressed in over 60 games in a season just twice in the last seven years. Letang can play 25 minutes a game, but how much is that worth if he misses significant time each year?

Even with his injury issues, can the Oilers afford to pass on another right-handed defenceman? Defenceman who average over 50 points a season aren’t available very often. Letang’s durability is questionable, but that gamble might be worth it if he can stay relatively healthy. Dynamic, offensive defenceman whose reasonably priced and capable of playing over 25 minutes a night are rare, and usually never available.

  • rivid

    No way you do this trade. RNH should not be going anywhere and should be looked at as a long term player. Letang best years are behind him. I can’t say what letang is worth, but in my armchair gm opinion nuge is way too much.

  • ponokanocker

    I’d consider if Strome and Russell were going the other way. Letang, when healthy, is a top 10 D in the league. Health is obviously a concern, but if you can buy low on that, I’d do it. Chia would have to pull off a trade for another winger then.

      • Oilerchild77

        Seth Jones is the only player out of that list that you would have ANY chance of getting for Nuge. You’re not getting any of the others for anything less than Draisaitl+

        • Joy S. Lee

          So as Oilers GM you would add a piece to Draisaitl in order to pry either Trouba or Barrie away from their clubs? Yikes – I’m glad you’re not in charge of the team.

          • Joy S. Lee

            Ok, just realized you were addressing the Pietrangelo, Subban and Hedman list. Now that I’m reading it right, your suggestion makes a lot more sense. But it does sound like you may undervalue the big German. Let’s remember also that Draisaitl is still a kid with a lot of room for improvement. Which, in the context of this topic, is why Letang would be such a great addition, so long as the cost isn’t some of the Oilers’ best up and comers.

  • Joy S. Lee

    Many are calling your article “filler,” but I absolutely would love to see Letang here. Might be just what the doctor ordered. However, given Letang’s age, salary, and physical limitations, I just wouldn’t give up a great deal to make it happen.

  • Beer_League_Ringer

    Our D-core is fine, AND one of the cheaper/young D-cores in the league. Klefbom is signed until 2022-2023 at ~4.2mil; Larsson until 2020-2021 at ~4.2mil; Russell (4mil) and Sekera (5.5mil) until 2020-2021; Nurse and Benning are RFAs this summer. Nurse is getting a deal for sure – he is 22 and already a beast. No need to add Letang, especially at 7.25mil. The decent-to-good (potentially very good) D we have + the depth at C shouldn’t be messed with until it needs to be messed with.

  • toprightcorner

    I would prefer PC focus on players like under performing Faulk

    Maybe Russell, Nuge, Caggulia and 2nd for Faulk and Lindholm. Lindholm shoots right and can play RW or C

  • Freddie the fog

    If RNH was moved in a Letang trade their had better b a helluva lot more than just Letang coming . It would have to also include their BEST prospect, maybe 2 to take on the injury risk he comes with. Nah…this treads in inconfortable water for me. I like RNH too much to lose a deal with him.