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Hextall: Surprised if We Don’t Get Letang Done; Less Optimistic on Malkin

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Kris Letang contract, Ron Hextall

MONTREAL — Just like that, Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ron Hextall, who wasn’t even expected to speak after the NHL GM meetings at a Montreal hotel Wednesday, dropped a bombshell about defenseman Kris Letang that’s sure to please many Penguins fans but cause debate, as well.

Hextall confirmed the swirling speculation that Letang is close to signing a new contract.

“I’d be surprised if we don’t get it done,” Hextall said, with his back literally to the wall outside of the meeting room.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now’s Dave Molinari was part of the media throng that intercepted Hextall, and recorded the video below.

Letang, 35, is a week from unrestricted free agency, which begins on July 13.

The contract is widely expected to be for three or four years, and $8 million seems to be the most often-mentioned average annual value. Last season, Kris Letang finished in the top 10 of Norris Trophy voting (7th) his third top-10 finish in the past four years. He also finished among the leaders in scoring by defensemen with 68 points (10-58-68).

Hextall’s perspective on Evgeni Malkin remaining a Pittsburgh Penguins isn’t nearly as upbeat as his outlook on Letang.

“I can’t say (it is close with Malkin),” Hextall said, his body language conveying his lack of optimism. “We’re still working. We spoke to him as recently as last night. We’ll see where it goes.”

Initially, reporters were told that Hextall would not speak until before the first round of the draft Thursday at the Bell Centre. However, he was intercepted as he was leaving the GM meetings.

Additional Hextall Quotes:

Hextall was also forthright about the process with other unrestricted-free-agents-to-be, including Rickard Rakell. Will the Penguins exhaust the process with Letang and Malkin before attempting to sign Rakell and others?

“We’re certainly more comfortable doing it that way, but as we get closer to the date, we have to look at everything and try to make the pieces fit,” Hextall said. “I can’t say we’ll wait for everybody. That’s how we started out. When we get down to that hour, we’ll make some decisions.”

Hextall also confirmed that the limited quality on the UFA goalie market helped to convince them sign DeSmith to a two-year contract:

“Yeah, you look at the market, there’s not a lot out there. Casey is a pretty good goalie. He’s played well for us. He’s well-liked. He fits in well. It was a bit of a no-brainer for us.”

Hextall acknowledged that the Pittsburgh Penguins are unlikely trade up in the draft, but trading down is a possibility.

“We don’t have a lot of ammo to move up, so I can’t imagine that happening,” he said. “If anything, we’d move back.”

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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charmaine
charmaine
1 month ago

great news…….and great work, as usual, Dave Molinari and Dan……this Penguin fan was hoping Kris Letang would remain a Penguin !!!

Bob
Bob
1 month ago

Wish Letang would take his 8 million a year and move on.That would only leaves 13 million after the Desmith signing. If he wants to help this team to improve with better players then take a pay cut instead of thinking of his wallet. As far as Malkin, move on. Make a blockbuster deal with Edmonton who needs to shred salary. Big winger Jesse Puljujarvi wants out of Edmonton and replace Letang with Tyson Berrie the 2 way Defenseman who’s been mentioned about moving for cap space and Zack Kassian as well who would bring toughness here. What these 3… Read more »

Rich FILARDI
Rich FILARDI
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob

Tyson barrie was playing on the bottom pairing and is terrible defensively.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob

Players should never take a home town discount. After the owners forced the salary cap on them? No thanks.

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[…] What’s going on with Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall’s plans to re-sign pending UFA’s Evgeni Malkin and Kris […]

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
1 month ago

Let him walk and start the rebuild if they are letting Geno go.

Bob
Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Fisher

I agree! Is someone putting pressure on him like Crosby? What’s he care he has his line set. But I’m sure we’ll be disappointed again with this team and be signing cheap help after they sign him and Possibly Trochek. So where will that leave Rachel. Unless they buy out Zucker and trade Petterson to loosen up 9 million.

Michelle
Michelle
1 month ago

Another thought: with the Fedorov and Kaprizov situations, does Hextall really want to take that gamble on Geno?

Rich
Rich
1 month ago

I think they let 71 go to FA. I feel that always been the plan.

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[…] While Kris Letang seems a bet to sign, it sure looks the things are done with the Pittsburgh Penghins and Evgeni […]

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[…] Hockey Now: The general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ron Hextall, spoke to the media following his general manager meeting on Wednesday. He gave a […]

David
David
1 month ago

Sounds like Malkin is gone — because if they are not close at this point, they are not going to sign him unless his agent is holding out until the last minute. I will be sad to see him go. But it makes no sense for the Pens to sign Geno for big $$ when he misses 25% of the games and is 36. His best hockey surely is not in front of him, but behind. The Pens will have a lot more cap space to work with if Geno walks.

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