Reports broke later Thursday that teams were interested in Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang and the Penguins have talked with at least two teams about him. Friday morning a well-placed source within the Montreal Canadiens organization told Pittsburgh Hockey Now that Montreal is one of those who have made a serious inquiry.
The source provided no further details, and Pittsburgh Hockey Now has not been able to learn how far talks with the Canadiens have progressed. No deal is imminent.
According to CapFriendly.com, Letang has a limited no-trade clause which stipulates he may submit a list of 18 teams to which he’ll accept a trade. It seems probable the French-speaking Letang would include his hometown Montreal on his list. Letang had a big rebound season after struggling through 2017-18 with the effects of recovering from his neck early 2017 neck surgery.
This season, Letang had 56 points (16g, 40a) and finished sixth in Norris trophy voting this season. He has three seasons left with a very affordable $7.25 million cap hit.
According to our source, Montreal is chasing an offensive-defenseman and has made other big-name inquiries this week, but the Penguins are believed to be listening.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now was not provided with any names involved in the discussion. However, the Canadiens roster is not flush with candidates.
Tomas Tatar, 28, is a scoring left winger and the Penguins are short on beyond Jake Guentzel. Tatar had a bounce-back season in Montreal with 25 goals and 58 points. The Slovakia native was acquired by Montreal last summer from Vegas who gave up a first, second and third round pick to Detroit for Tatar at the 2018 trade deadline.
Tatar played on the Canadiens top line last season and has two years at $5.3 million left on his contract.
Jeff Petry would help the Penguins fill the defensive void caused by a Letang deal, too. He is a 31-year-old right-handed defenseman easily capable of 40-points per season. However, his average annual cap hit is $5.5 million, which would seem to add more complications for the Penguins.
Max Domi would be a high-profile name and is a player the Penguins attempted to acquire last summer before Montreal won the bidding by offering Alex Galchenyuk. Domi is Montreal’s second line center and had a resurgent year. His current salary is only $3.15 million, but he is a free agent in 2020.
Domi had 72 points with 28 goals for Montreal this season. That would seem to be too much for the Canadiens to give up unless the deal gets much bigger.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now and our family of reporters under the National Hockey Now umbrella will be chasing the story this weekend.