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After he struggled against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final last season, many wondered if Kris Letang was worth the money that the Penguins would have to pay to sign him to a long-term contract.
Evidently, Pens general manager Ray Shero was not one of those people as he signed Letang to an eight-year, $58 million contract with the hope that he could continue to develop into a more complete player and eventually win the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman.
With his future in Pittsburgh secured, the Pens and their fans were hoping that Letang would start off the 2013-14 season strong, but that has not been the case.
Having missed nine games due to an injury, Letang's playmaking ability has been slow to return, and although he has six goals and a shooting percentage over nine percent, he has only five assists in 21 games after averaging almost an assist per game (33 assists in 35 games) last season.
Defensively, Letang has struggled at times with turnovers and, after finishing fifth on the team with a plus-15 last season, is a minus-three—tied for the second-worst rating on the team so far this season.
While the Pens have won five in a row and eight of their past 10, Letang's slow start is a concern, and since he is such an integral part of the Pens' system, it's hard to see them claiming the top seed and advancing deep into playoffs if he can't perform at the same level he did last season.