Kris Letang grew into the speedy and offensively gifted defenseman the Pittsburgh Penguins anticipated when they drafted him. In 2005, the Penguins drafted Letang 62nd overall, touting him as the steal of the first three rounds. This draft was the start of the Penguins’ rebuilding process, cementing a base for a future championship-contending club. Letang helped the Penguins grow into champions.
Letang was an asset to the Penguins’ blue-line, adding a touch of scoring and playmaking from the backend and toughness around the boards. These were the highlights of his abilities on ice, especially playing three successful seasons with Val d’Or Foreurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Before former general manager, Craig Patrick was released, Patrick was scouring for a strong young core and Letang was recognized as the backbone to the defensive hub. The same year, superstar Sidney Crosby was drafted first overall and already orchestrated to take the offensive burdens. It was an opportunity for the enthusiastic defenseman to gain ground and work on a dynasty.
Letang’s three seasons for Foreurs taught him about effort and the essentials to skating. In 170 games for the junior French-Canadian club, Letang scored 152 points and spent 309 minutes in the box, denoting him as prime prospect to professional hockey. 1
In 2007, Letang won the QMJHL’s Emile Bouchard Trophy, best defenseman and the Kevin Lowe Trophy, the best defensive defenseman, suggesting that he was one of the best defenseman available in the draft. However, his junior hockey portfolio contained a couple more awards by winning two gold medals in the 2006 and 2007 World Junior Championships. It held a junior career that some can only behold in their dreams.
Kris Letang 2009-10 Season
The Penguins confronted a dilemma during their 2009/10 campaign: defending their championship status. This was a challenge for the well-inversed defenseman, Kris Letang, who anticipated a repeated season and a stepping-stone to his repertoire.
Letang, finished the season with 27 points and 51 penalty minutes in 73 games. It was a slight fall from his previous season, but it ensured a plus rating denoting his improving defensive performance. On November 7th, 2009, against the San Jose Sharks, he was checked into the boards and suffered a shoulder contusion that left him sidelined for two weeks. The Penguins suffered a dramatic lost since Letang joined the injured reserve with some of his fellow teammates. 2
However, Letang and the Penguins finished fourth in the NHL Eastern conference to face the surging Ottawa Senators in another first round death match. In the second round, the former Stanley Cup champs were in contest with the eighth seed Montreal Canadiens, but lost at home in a game seven departure. Letang finished the playoffs seven points in 13 games played. It was a performance that enlightened the management of the talent they behold in Letang
Kris Letang 2008-09 Season
Letang experienced his first Stanley Cup Finals in his second season in professional hockey. The 2008/09 season was not only a unforgettable experience for the young French defender but a productive one too. With star defenseman Sergei Gonchar and ex-Penguin Ryan Whitney placed on long-term injured reserves, Letang was pushed up to the first D-line with hard-hitting defenseman Brooks Orpik.
For his excellent demeanor and play, he played in the 2009 NHL Youngstars game, playing for the sophomore side. It was another superb recognition for Letang.
He finished the season with 33 points and 24 penalty minutes in 74 games—a highlight for his sophomore year. The Penguins advanced to the post-season finishing fourth and playing against league rivals Philadelphia Flyers in a series that started the Pens vicious playoff run.
Letang and his teammates dismantled the Pennsylvania counterparts in six games, advancing them to the conference semi finals against the powerful and enthusiastic Washington Captials. It was a battle of offensive d-men and high-profiling scoring from the league’s top three forwards, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the great, Alexander Ovechkin. Letang played in his first seven-game series that pushed his limits and taught him about the struggle in professional succession. The Pens pushed through to the Eastern Conference Finals against an enduring Carolina Hurricanes.
In the backend, Letang fought off his foes with great defensive precision and cooperation that helped the Penguins fly by the Hurricanes in four straight games and challenging the defending champs, the Detroit Red Wings.
Already in his second season and a Stanley Cup Final—a truly memorable experience for the young Letang. He never worked as hard, however, came out victorious with a championship ring in a deadly seven game series. Until the last second of game seven, Letang was poised to play hard and then rewarded by hoisting the Cup—a childhood dream. He finished the post-season with 13 points in 23 games.
Kris Letang 2007-08 Season
The 2007/08 campaign was his first full NHL season, filled with exciting moments of his hockey career.
Letang played ten games for Penguins farm team and American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins before called up to the big leagues. During his ten games, the youngster scored seven points, identifying him as a perfect candidate for the young Penguins squad.
It is a rarity for rookies to experience a post-season debut, but Letang was one of the lucky ones. He was inherited into a club that participated in top ten picks the last few season, rebuilding their core and steaming up for a reappearance to a post-season. For a rookie, he sustained a presence, scoring 17 points in 63 games—it was a promising debut. This led him to a 2008 NHL Youngstars Game, as he participated on the rookie team. 3
The Penguins finally reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs and faced a desperate Ottawa Senators club, who strived to succeed in wining at least one championship and failing their previous year in the finals. Letang and his teammates blew past the Sens in four games, advancing and playing against the New York Rangers in a five-game Eastern Conference semi-final series. Then, Letang and the Penguins played the Philadelphia Flyers in the [[Eastern Conference Finals], winning in five games, again. However, the pressure pinned Letang to the wall, as the Pens were against Stanley Cup favorites, the Detroit Red Wings. Some times your experiences are learning curves and this is exactly how Letang and his teammates viewed their six-game championship finals lost to the powerful Western Conference side. Letang only had two assists in his 16 games adventure.
Date of Birth
April 24, 1987
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Val d'Or Foreurs
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