MONTREAL (AP) — Moves are already happening around the NHL several hours before the draft begins, with the reigning Stanley Cup winners making a move to shore up their goaltending situation and a recent back-to-back champion ensuring a long-time defenseman was sticking around.
The Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche on Thursday 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.
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.
Pittsburgh may not be able to keep the entire band together, given center Evgeni Malkin is also set to be an unrestricted free agent, but general manager Ron Hextall prioritized locking up Letang long term.
“The role he plays on our team is irreplaceable, he is a leader in our locker room and has made countless contributions to the organization over the last 15-plus years,” Hextall said in a statement.
Letang, 36, helped Pittsburgh win the Cup in 2009, 2016 and 2017, though he missed the final run because of injury.