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Penguins notebook: Letang's illness not believed to be life-threatening

| Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, 7:45 p.m.

Kris Letang's mystery illness is not believed life threatening, but the Penguins are not sure when he will play again this season, multiple sources told the Tribune-Review.

The team planned to update Letang's condition Friday.

There were concerns last week that Letang's season — if not his career — could be in jeopardy because of the illness, the sources said.

Letang, a defenseman, has not taken the ice since Jan. 30, when he practiced but did not play at Los Angeles. He will not play against the New York Rangers at Consol Energy Center on Friday — the Penguins' final game before the NHL's Olympic break.

“There will be no update on Kris Letang until we have further update on his condition,” coach Dan Bylsma said Thursday.

Bylsma said he would “not allude” to the nature of Letang's medical condition “until we've got more and all the information.”

The Penguins are not seeking to move Letang before the trade deadline, the sources said. The trade deadline is March 5, but there is an Olympic-break roster freeze for all NHL clubs from 3 p.m. Friday through 11:59 p.m. Feb. 23.

Letang's illness is the latest health issue to force him from the lineup. In addition to the last four games, he has not played in 19 games because of a strained right knee and infected left elbow. The elbow infection required a medical procedure in December.

Letang's new contract, which raises his salary-cap hit from $3.5 million to $7.25 million and contains a limited trade clause, begins July 1.

In 34 games this season, Letang has scored 10 goals and recorded eight assists to go with a minus-6 rating. He was a Norris Trophy (top defenseman) finalist for the first time last season.

AHL OLYMPIC RULES

NHL players are not permitted to partake in any team activities during the break, and there are restrictions for AHL placement during the Olympics.

The AHL will continue to stage games during the Olympics.

Players exempt from waivers cannot be assigned to the AHL if they have appeared in 16 of the last 20 games prior to the Olympic break. Also, a players on an NHL roster for 75 percent of the season from Oct. 1-Jan. 24 cannot be assigned to the AHL.

DINGED WINGS

Right winger Beau Bennett, out since Nov. 22, remains on track to play for the Penguins after the Olympics, Bylsma said.

Bennett, who was playing on the top line at the time of his injury, required surgery to repair a broken bone in his wrist. He has scored a goal and recorded two assists in 12 games this season.

Pascal Dupuis, who began the season on the top line then returned there after Bennett's injury, will have surgery to repair a torn right ACL on Feb. 12.

Dupuis, injured at Ottawa on Dec. 23, has spent the past several weeks pre-habilitating the muscles surrounding his torn ligament. Activities have included stretching and light-impact exercises. Dupuis cannot move horizontally on the knee, but is able to run stairs.

Dupuis is not projected to play again until next season.

OPTIONAL PRACTICE

Seven skaters and backup goalie Jeff Zatkoff practiced Thursday.

Zatkoff was joined by defensemen Rob Scuderi and Deryk Engelland and forwards Brian Gibbons, Jayson Megna, Craig Adams, Chuck Kobasew and Harry Zolnierczyk.

None of the Penguins' seven Olympic players practiced.

The session was deemed optional by coaches.

FORWARDS SWAPPED

The Penguins completed a minor-league swap with Columbus. Forward Spencer Machacek, 25, was acquired for forward Paul Thompson, also 25. Machaecek has played in 25 NHL games, scoring two goals and recording seven assists in those contests.

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