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Pens' defense welcomes back Orpik, but Letang departs with injury

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - Penguins defenseman Kris Letang reacts after scoring the second of his two third-period goals against the Blackhawks on Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>Penguins defenseman Kris Letang reacts after scoring the second of his two third-period goals against the Blackhawks on Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review file - Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik (front) could return to the lineup Friday against the Hurricanes.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla  | Tribune-Review file</em></div>Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik (front) could return to the lineup Friday against the Hurricanes.

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Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, 1:21 p.m.
 

The Penguins are trying to get under the NHL's $64.3 million salary cap.

Injuries are complicating that situation, but not limiting their roster movement.

Defenseman Kris Letang did not practice Saturday because of a lower-body injury, coach Dan Bylsma said after a practice in West Point, N.Y.

Letang, a Norris Trophy finalist as the top defenseman last season, will not practice Sunday and is scheduled for a medical re-evaluation when the Penguins return to Pittsburgh on Monday, Bylsma said.

Bylsma added that he was not sure of a timetable for Letang's recovery.

A projected lengthy absence would provide the Penguins an option of placing Letang on the long-term injury (LTI) list. That designation would require him to miss 10 games and 24 days, but it would allow the Penguins to temporarily shave Letang's $3.5 million from their salary cap.

The Penguins also could place injured backup goalie Tomas Vokoun (blood clot) on LTI, a move that would free $2 million in cap space until Vokoun's return.

Any LTI designations would allow the Penguins to safely sign forward Chuck Kobasew, who was to be offered a one-year contract this weekend. Kobasew, in camp on a tryout contract, must make at least $550,000, the veteran minimum.

All clubs must be in compliance with the cap when rosters are set at 23 players Monday.

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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