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Staal trade did not set precedent for Letang

| Thursday, June 20, 2013, 8:42 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Kris Letang spins around on the Senators' Kyle Turris to clear the zone in the second period on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.

Jordan Staal was traded at the NHL Entry Draft a year ago.

That was no precedent for the Penguins' dealings with defenseman Kris Letang.

“This is different than the Staal negotiation,” general manager Ray Shero said Thursday. “But I don't have a crystal ball.”

Shero said there is no timetable to settle anything with Letang at the Entry Draft on June 30 or by the start of free-agent season July 5.

Letang is in a similar spot to Staal from last June: set to enter the final year of his current contract, permitted by the labor contract to agree on a new deal and projected to receive a big raise.

Unlike Staal last season, Letang has not informed the Penguins he is intent on playing out the final year of his deal.

That much was reiterated to Shero by Letang's agent, Kent Hughes, during a meeting Wednesday in Boston. More meetings with Hughes are planned because the Penguins have not ruled out keeping Letang.

They had ruled out keeping Staal, who had rejected a 10-year contract offer, leading up to the Entry Draft last summer.

The Penguins have not presented Letang with an offer, but they are preparing one.

Shero will spend the next several days “trying to have some preliminary discussions with some guys.”

That includes players due qualifying offers (example: defenseman Robert Bortuzzo), players due to become restricted free agents (example: winger Tyler Kennedy) and other players with only a year remaining on their current deals (example: defenseman Brooks Orpik).

Seven Penguins players are eligible to become unrestricted free agents, including top-line winger Pascal Dupuis. Shero and Dupuis' agent, Allan Walsh, have opened discussions on a potential new contract.

The Penguins have no intention of trading winger James Neal, who is signed for another five years at an annual cap hit of $5 million. Reports of interest from other clubs have surfaced.

Shero also does not plan to use either of the two compliance buyouts that are options to clubs looking to shed salary-cap space this and next summer.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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