Could Kris Letang now be Leafs-bound?

The Penguins have offered Kris Letang an eight-year deal worth

The Penguins have offered Kris Letang an eight-year deal worth "around $54 million," the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Thursday. (AFP)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

TORONTO - Kris Letang apparently has expensive tastes, which only a club such as the Maple Leafs might ultimately be able to indulge.

In a dizzying day of negotiating that followed Wednesday’s report linking Letang and the Leafs, the Pittsburgh Penguins stretched their budget to offer around $56 million over eight years to the young Norris Trophy nominee. But Letang’s agent, Kent Hughes, said no, and multiple reports late Thursday said his counter offer to add $500,000 to the annual $7 million proposed by the Pens was also rejected.

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review said talks would continue as teams gather in New Jersey for Sunday’s NHL draft. At the draft in Pittsburgh a year ago, Jordan Staal turned down an offer from Pens’ general manager Ray Shero and was traded to Carolina.

Either of Thursday’s deals would double Letang’s stipend of $3.5 million for this coming year, a raise that only a few other teams, such as Toronto, could afford under the shrinking cap.

The Pens insisted Thursday morning they hadn’t approached the Leafs and Toronto GM Dave Nonis was caught off-guard by Wednesday’s Tribune report that Letang’s camp saw the Leafs as a potential landing spot. It created massive speculation the Leafs would have to deal defenceman Jake Gardiner and move Dion Phaneuf’s salary by trade or buyout.

Like many of his peers, Nonis is amazed by the number of big-name players suddenly available or on the verge of being moved. But as he cautioned earlier this week, spreading around too much money in pursuit of quick fixes is how many teams got in cap trouble in the first place.

The Leafs will be paying at least one compliance buyout in the next few days to Mike Komisarek. They aren’t in bad shape to get under the lowered cap of $64.3 million this year and have only five players under contract in 2014-15, when the ceiling could rise and they wipe $1-million buyouts for Darcy Tucker and Colby Armstrong off the books.

Nonis has a few projects going this weekend, the draft, trade talk, in-house free agents such as Tyler Bozak, a new contract for Jonathan Bernier and perhaps announcing a new Marlie farm coach.


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