Earlier this afternoon HCMS stated that Kris Letang, star defenseman will not return for the remainder of the season. A month ago fans, players, staff were all under the impression Letang had been making progress and we would see him for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This is no longer the case. Letang sustained a herniated disc in his neck and will undergo surgery, and the timetable to his return is 4-6 months.
Kris is a vital piece for the Penguins, and a year ago it would not be possible to win a Cup without his game. Letang is not injury prone but he has had some pretty serious health complications in his past. Mike Sullivan says it was basically a multitude of things combined, it wasn’t a specific game, or play that had injured him it was all just a cluster of things. It’s a tough situation and you really feel for him, but hearing he will be around the team throughout this run gives you some hope. He can be an extra set of eyes and he knows today’s players and their style of play.
There are plenty of guys that are going to step up but two guys on defense that I expect will step up during Letang’s absence:
Daley has been a great pick up for the Penguins since being acquired during the 2015-2016 season. Coming to Pittsburgh from Chicago last year in exchange for Rob Scuderi he has had a great run with PIT, but definitely not an easy one. Last years playoffs he broke his ankle, this year Daley had undergone anthroscopic knee surgery. In his 54 GP this season Daley has 5 goals, 14 assists for 19 points. Although we haven’t seen it too much this season, Trevor has a pretty wicked Slapper. Not to mention.. He is likely to return tomorrow when we face the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center.
Schultz being acquired in February of 2016 from the Edmonton Oilers only cost a whopping third round draft pick. I have to say Jim Rutherford has won this trade. Before coming to Pittsburgh Schultz was having his worst season of his career putting up 3 goals 7 assists for 10 points in his 45 GP. Coming to the Penguins putting seriously damn near the same amount of points as he did in EDM being 1 goal 7 assists.
Being settled into his new home during the 2016-2017 season, Schultz is having the best season of his career. 76 GP later having 12 goals 37 assists and 49 points. Yes, Justin Schultz is almost a 50 point defenseman. Gaining his confidence carrying the puck, in passing and shooting as well, he I believe will play a magnificent role in this year’s playoffs.
There is no replacing Letang. The only thing to do is hope the chemistry is as good as it has been when guys start flooding back into the lineup any day now. It’s a terrible loss to be without such a hard working guy such as Kris but have faith, we have the Penguins. Lets get this done boys!