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Kris Letang, Defenseman
Letang has yet to play this season due to an injury, but has been a solid offensive defenseman since he first made the Penguins lineup in the 2007-08 season. He has at least 30 points in each of the last three seasons, but struggled with injuries in the last two years.
Despite that, he had 38 points in 35 games in 2013 to lead all Pens defensemen and rank third on the team. He also was first overall with 25:38 of ice time per game and 4:37 of ice time on the power play. His 59 blocked shots were third, and he was a finalist for the Norris Trophy.
Prior to the season, he signed an eight-year extension, which makes him a core part of the Pens blueline for years to come. If he is able to come back soon, he will get a fresh chance to put points on the board and give the Pens a physical edge on defense.
Paul Martin, Defenseman
Martin is in his fourth season in Pittsburgh and was named the Penguins' Defensive Player of the Year last year after posting 23 points in 37 games with a plus-14 rating. He was also second with an ice-time average of 25:19 per game and 3:08 on the penalty kill, and he ranked behind Letang in scoring among Penguins blueliners.
Last season, Martin demonstrated his hard slapshot at opportune times, including in Game 6 against the New York Islanders to tie the game 3-3 and help the Pens clinch the series. On St. Patrick's Day, he used it again to score his first goal since opening day of the 2013 season.
James Neal, Left Wing
Since coming to Pittsburgh in a trade with the Dallas Stars in 2011, Neal has proved his worth and earned a six-year extension in February of 2012. He had 81 points that year, but last season, the lockout limited him to 36 points in 40 games. Even though his overall production was down, he still led the Pens with nine power-play goals.
Neal played in the Penguins' home opener against the New Jersey Devils, but is currently out of the lineup with an injury. In the preview of Tuesday's game with the Carolina Hurricanes, head coach Dan Bylsma said Neal is "week-to-week."
Like Letang, Neal will have less time to show he should earn an MVP, but the 26-year-old has years ahead of him even if he does not find his footing this season.