Prior to the 2013 NHL playoffs, the consensus was that Kris Letang had turned the corner and was considered to be one of the top defensemen in the NHL.
Since then, his stock seems to have taken a tumble, as back-to-back disappointing postseason performances, coupled with injuries that limited him to just 37 games during the 2013-14 season, have led to questions as to whether he is worth the eight-year, $58 million contract he signed last summer.
While overpaying for a mobile defenseman is a bad habit that pervades the NHL and is not limited to the Pens, when you have so much money committed to two players—Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who make $18.2 million combined—there's not a lot of room for error.
Unfortunately, given his recent performance, it looks like Letang's deal was an error on the Pens' part, especially when you consider that he now makes more than each of the last five Norris Trophy winners.
The question is, Should the Pens look to move him, or do they simply cross their fingers and hope that Letang eventually becomes the player that everyone seemed to think he was during the 2012-13 regular season?
Fortunately for the Pens, his deal doesn't completely financially strap them, since Crosby and Malkin were willing to take less money to give the organization a better chance to build a Stanley Cup contender.
For now, the loss of Matt Niskanen in free agency and injuries to Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot have made Letang more valuable to the Pens, but new general manager Jim Rutherford could decide that Letang's price isn't equal to his production and actively shop him.