PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will soon be the Penguins all-time points leader for defensemen. Letang notched a pair of goals including the game-winner in the Penguins 7-6 overtime win over the Washington Capitals, Thursday night. The three points pushed Letang into a tie with Hall-of-Fame defender Paul Coffey, who played with the Penguins from 1987 through part of 1991, at 440 points.
“I didn’t know that but it’s pretty cool,” said Letang. “He was always a guy I was looking up to and I’ve had the chance to have a bunch of exchanges with (Coffey). It’s fun to be next to him.”
Letang, 31, has been a stalwart on the Penguins blue line since his rookie year in 2007-08 when he was just 20-years-old. Letang played 63 games that season with just 17 points, but the Penguins 2005 third round pick was obviously a star in the making. Now in his 12th season, Letang has been through extraordinary challenges on and off the ice from a stroke in 2014 to neck surgery in 2016. And last year he was challenged on the ice to recapture his conditioning, timing, and play despite recovering from that neck surgery.
Now Letang needs just one more point to statistically become the greatest Penguins defenseman in history. His next game will be no. 684 and he has 98 goals and 342 assists. In a vastly different era, Coffey scored his 440 points in just 331 games but other than games played. Coffey also led the Penguins in scoring in 1989-90 when Mario Lemieux missed most of the season with a back injury.
Aside from games played, Letang and Coffey have similar stat lines. Coffey scored 108 goals and 332 assists in his Penguins tenure. Like Coffey, Letang is a superior skater and uses the speed to drive the rush. Though Letang has hoisted three Stanley Cups in his 12 seasons while Coffey lifted just one as a Penguin, 1991 (but three in Edmonton, 1984, 1985, and 1987).
Letang will go for the record Saturday against Montreal.