Pittsburgh Penguins 2011 Season Grades: Kris Letang

Troy PfaffContributor IMay 9, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 24:  Kris Letang #58 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates with the puck during a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 24, 2011 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Lou Capozzola/Getty Images)
Lou Capozzola/Getty Images

In today's Penguins Puck’s Pittsburgh Penguins 2011 Season Grades, we’ll take a look at the season of defenseman Kris Letang.

Grading scale: The grading scale will range from A+ down through F, with half grades (+/-) included.

The players will be graded on their overall season performance, as well as how they performed compared to their potential, talent level and expectations.

What a tale of two halves for this kid.

The fleet-footed 24-year-old assumed a much larger role with the Penguins in 2011 than he had before, thanks to the departure of offensive powerhouse and power-play specialist Sergei Gonchar.

Letang thrived in that role through the first 41 games of the season. He amassed 37 points in the first half of the season and, having already set career highs in points and assists, established himself as an early-season Norris Trophy candidate as best overall defenseman in the NHL.

Letang was playing with an unmistakable swagger. He accounted for half of the Penguins' best defensive pairing along with Brooks Orpik.

Then came "The Injury." When Sidney Crosby went down with a concussion, so did Letang's numbers and any chance of the French-Canadian actually being nominated for the Norris.

In his final 41 games, Letang scored just two goals and 13 points. The defenseman finished the season a +15, but was a minus-eight in the second half.

He was an even zero in the playoffs and recorded four points in seven games. He quarterbacked a power play that scored just once in 34 chances, and looked more like Alex Goligoski in his own end than the Kris Letang that played in the first half of the season.

In my Midway Marking Period, I gave Letang an A+ for his efforts in the first half of the season. He deserves nothing more than a C- for his second half, so I guess he’s earned himself an B for his season on the whole.

Expect bigger and better things from Letang next season once Crosby and Malkin are healthy again.

I fully expect him to live up to the four-year, $14 million deal he signed before the 2010-11 season.



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