The Pittsburgh Penguins and defenseman Kris Letang still have issues to resolve in regards to completing an eight-year, $56 million extension, according to Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Manager Ray Shero and Letang's agent Kent Hughes have agreed on the framework of the extension, which will carry an annual average value of $7.25 million against the salary cap. In addition, the agreement will contain a limited no-trade clause, which will allow the 26-year-old defenseman to pick 15 teams he would accept a trade to.
However, Shero's unwillingness to verbally agree to not trade Letang next summer remains a primary issue to a deal getting done, according to Rossi. Letang is entering the final year of a four-year, $14 million contract that does not include any kind of movement protection. With the salary cap declining to $64.3 million next season, an extension with Letang would not alter the team's salary cap allocation.
That will not be the case with the 2014-15 season, which will be the first year of Letang's next deal.
It's largely speculated that the salary cap will drastically rise from its total in the 2013-14 season. Of course, it remains an unknown variable. Considering the long-term commitments to captain Sidney Crosby and forward Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins will have three players eating a sizable chunk of their salary cap allotment in the event of an extension being agreed to with Letang.
Depending on what the salary cap upper limit is in 2014-15, Shero might face a situation where trading Letang before his no-trade clause kicks in could be a beneficial course of action. Instead of only having 15 teams to work with, Shero would have the option of working with all 30. This is a similar situation the Philadelphia Flyers faced when trading Jeff Carter and Mike Richards before the 2011 NHL Draft and the Vancouver Canucks explored with defenseman Alexander Edler at the 2013 draft.
Obviously, Letang is not interested in signing an extension with Pittsburgh only to be traded before it even begins.
While this issue has held up the agreement, the two sides are believed to be nearing the end of negotiations. Rossi writes that the team likely would have moved Letang at the draft had it not been nearing a finalized deal. Of course, the situation isn't over until the paperwork is officially signed. Until then, it would be wise to assume nothing is over, until it's actually over.