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Breakfast with Benz

Tim Benz: Like Steelers with Bryant, Penguins seem to be daring for Letang offers

| Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 6:24 a.m.
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (58) controls the puck in front of Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86), of Russia, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (58) controls the puck in front of Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86), of Russia, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford told The Athletic he's not actively trying to trade defenseman Kris Letang .

"He's not a guy that I'm actively trying to trade from our team. He's been a great player for a long time and I think he'll continue to be so. But, I can't sit here and project an offer that some team could come along and make. I can't project the future."

"Actively"? Hmm. OK. And ...

"Like I said, I'm not actively looking to trade him."

As a reminder, here's what Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said about the notion of trading Martavis Bryant in late March.

"There may be inquiries that come along, but we have no intention of trading Martavis."

So there you have it. Kris Letang will remain a Pittsburgh Penguin.

Unless the Oakland Raiders offer Jim Rutherford a third-round draft choice to make Letang a deep threat for Derek Carr.

Hey, I bet Tanger could do it. He has wheels!

OK, Penguins fans. Easy. Calm down. I can already hear you screeching and complaining about the comparison.

I know. "Tanger" ain't "MartLimas." I get it. Kris Letang is a three-time champion. He's not an off-the-ice headache. He never has asked for a trade. He much more frequently has tapped his potential and channeled his talents.

The comparison isn't about the athletes. The comparison is about how the general managers are speaking about their players. In both cases, what the GMs were saying equated to: "I'll trade him. But you've got to call me first. And you are going to have to knock my socks off."

For Bryant, Colbert's socks came off for simply a third-round pick. For Letang — with a partial no trade clause, too — it'll need to be much, much more.

So, yes, that's another way the players are different. But again, the point is more about the quotes from the guys allowed to make the deals. It's not about the guys on the trade block.

Here's where the players are the same, though. Both can make you mad with inconsistency. Both are coming off of seasons that could be described as inconsistent at best. Where Bryant's suspensions are a risk, so is Letang's health.

I'll give you a few other ways they are different, too. Bryant has a cheap contract — one more year at $1.9 million. Letang has four more years at $7.25 million.

Colbert's comments were a well-crafted way of daring the rest of the league to come at him with their best offer for Bryant. It worked.

If it didn't, Bryant would still be a Steeler, and Colbert would be OK with it.

My bet is Jim Rutherford is employing exactly the same tactic related to Kris Letang's future.

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