Penguins re-sign Letang; Avalanche acquire goalie Georgiev
MONTREAL (AP) — Colorado, Chicago and Pittsburgh all made key moves Thursday ahead of the NHL draft, with the Stanley Cup champion Avalanche making a deal to shore up their goaltending situation and the Penguins ensuring a long-time defenseman was sticking around.
The Avalanche acquired goaltender Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers for three draft picks, and the Pittsburgh Penguins also signed veteran defenseman Kris Letang to a $36.6 million, six-year contract that carries a $6.1 million annual salary cap hit.
“It was more of a contract to fit both parties: give a chance to the Penguins to sign other players and also based on performance and what I did in the last few years,” Letang said. “I think it was a mix of both. There was not like a set number or a set of years. It was just to fit both parties and make sure we can still compete and win and not take a big chunk and not leaving anything left.”
Before the draft began, the Blackhawks began their much-anticipated dismantling process by trading Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators for the seventh pick and more, and the Minnesota Wild re-signed goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to a $7 million, two-year contract.
The Blackhawks weren’t done dealing by trading third-year center Kirby Dach to Montreal during the draft to acquire two more picks. Chicago acquired the No. 13 and 66th selection for Dach, who had a career-best nine goals and 26 points in 82 games last season.
Montreal spurred the move by acquiring the No. 13 pick in trading defenseman Alexander Romanov and the 98th pick to the Islanders.
Later in the first round Thursday night, the Blackhawks acquired goaltender Petr Mrazek and the No. 25 from the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 38th. That was the price the Leafs had to pay to get rid of Mrazek’s contract and clear salary cap space.
The goalie domino effect started early in the day when Colorado gave up third- and fifth-round picks this year and a third-rounder next year for Georgiev. The move seems to spell the end of playoff starting goalie Darcy Kuemper’s time with the Avalanche.
The Avalanche can now pair Georgiev, who needs a new contract as a restricted free agent, with Pavel Francouz as they try to defend their third title in franchise history.
The Penguins, who won it all back to back in 2016 and ’17, now turn their attention to trying to re-sign star center Evgeni Malkin, who’s set to be an unrestricted free agent next week. General manager Ron Hextall said Wednesday the team was closer to an agreement with Letang than Malkin.
When Malkin texted Letang on Thursday, he responded, “I hope you get this done soon so we keep it all together.”
The Blackhawks are certainly not keeping their group together after trading DeBrincat and Dach. The Senators on the way to contending sooner than later were thrilled to make a trade with rebuilding Chicago.
“It’s way more fun adding than deleting,” GM Pierre Dorion said. “We want to play meaningful games until the end of the year. I think that’s one step closer to doing that. Obviously the rebuild has been going on. We feel we’re in the next phase now, and for us adding a player of this caliber you have to pay a certain price, and we felt it was a fair deal.”
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