Most Underrated NHL Defenseman: Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins

Anders EdlingCorrespondent IApril 12, 2008

When Sidney Crosby got injured and the Penguins playoff hopes looked like they were in the toilet, Evgeni Malkin's exceptional play helped lead the Penguins into the top spot of the toughest division in the East.

The Penguins' supporting cast are the unsung heroes of this story and one of the most important of that group is defenseman Kris Letang. His numbers aren't necessarily at the top of the table. However, in almost every Penguins game this season, including the playoffs, he has been the most trustworthy and solid defensemen for the Pens.

In Letang's first couple games of the season he looked a little shaky, but he quickly adjusted to being a 20-year old undersized defenseman in the NHL. His fluid skating motion mixed with wise puck decisions make him a key starting point in the Penguins incredible transition game.

Defensively, Letang has not been a liability either, and he usually uses his skating ability and low center of gravity to defend talented forwards who tower over him. Letang has even been more reliable than Ryan Whitney, who is four years his senior.

Whitney was even moved up to left wing for a couple games because Michel Therrien was upset with his defensive play. It is absolutely amazing for 6-foot, 20-year-old, third round draft pick defenseman to have a such a large impact on his team.

These attributes, mixed with Letang's solid play in both ends, is why he is currently the most underrated defenseman in the NHL. When you watch the Penguins in the playoffs this year and in the seasons to come keep a lookout for #58.