NHL Trade Rumors: Penguins More Likely To Trade Kris Letang This Summer, If They Do At All

The NHL trade rumors will be in full swing as the deadline approaches this month, with the Pittsburgh Penguins amongst the teams recently mentioned. There have been previous reports suggesting that the team might try to make a deal involving their defenseman Kris Letang. However, a more recent report suggests that the Penguins aren't making any deals involving Letang, at least ahead of the trade deadline. Here are the latest details on what Pittsburgh's stance is with Letang and how a deal could possibly happen later.

In a report from Pro Hockey Rumors, it's mentioned that Kris Letang is not actively being shopped by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Two different sources came out in agreement that the Penguins had "shut the door" on previous reports that Letang was definitely on the trade market. It's also reported that the Penguins weren't happy with the rumors involving their player ahead of the trade deadline. That said, there is still potential for a trade but that would come during the summer, not this month if the team wants to trade Letang at all.

As of this report, he's currently on the injured reserve list dealing with a lower-body issue. While he was with the team in Carolina, he was not on the ice for the game. Letang last played on December 23rd in the team's 4-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Pittsburgh is scheduled for a game at the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, although Letang's status for that game has not been revealed yet.

Right now, the Pittsburgh Penguins are 19-18-3 overall and holding onto the seventh-place spot in the Metropolitan Division. Kris Letang is currently second on the team when it comes to assists, as he's helped on 23 different goals. Only rightwing Phil Kessel has more with 26. Letang has also scored just two goals this season.

While it's possible this summer, an NHL trade involving Kris Letang would come with a lot of hurdles to clear. First off, the Penguins will need to determine if they want to even trade him. The team needs to see him healthy and back on the ice in order to evaluate his level of play based on his injury history.

His 2016-17 NHL season was a rough one in which he had to have neck surgery for a herniated disc in his neck. While he didn't participate in the season, Letang still had his name added to the Stanley Cup trophy after the team won the NHL Finals. That was after a previous season in which he was fourth in voting for the Norris Trophy and scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for his team against the San Jose Sharks.

In addition, the Penguins would need to find a team that wants to make the deal based on the $7.25 million he's owed over the next four years which not many teams can afford right now. Since the Penguins defenseman has an injury history teams would certainly tread cautiously right now. Letang also currently has a no-trade clause in his contract and could block a deal with as many as 18 teams.

That said, the Penguins' main goal right now should be trying to get back on track for a run at the playoffs. It's still an uphill climb from here to get their division as they are second-to-last, trailing the Washington Capitals by 10 points. That said, they could always grab an Eastern Conference Wild Card spot as they are battling with the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders, and Rangers for one of the two spots if the playoffs were coming soon.