ST. PETERSBURG, January 5 (R-Sport) - Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kristopher Letang has signed a lockout contract with big-spending KHL team SKA St. Petersburg.
Letang, 25, has spent his entire NHL career with the Penguins, notching up 202 points in 415 games and winning the Stanley Cup in 2009, and was a candidate for best NHL defenseman last season.
“It’s been a real pleasure to come here and play hockey,” Letang said Friday.
“The team really treats me well, they brought me here and showed me around, all the players were really nice to me.”
The Canadian said he had not asked his Pittsburgh teammate Evgeni Malkin, now the captain of Metallurg Magnitogorsk, for advice on moving to Russia.
“I didn’t call Malkin, but I talked to him and asked how it was going with the other team. I wasn’t going to play with him, I knew that," he said.
Letang could debut Sunday when Western Conference leader SKA plays a road game against Nail Yakupov's Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk.
“We are glad to present our newcomer Kris Letang,” team’s vice-president Alexei Kasatonov said.
“He is one of the best NHL defensemen and was nominated for the Norris Trophy last season. The lockout is continuing, so we’ve decided that it’s better for Kris to come right now to get into shape and prepare for the playoffs.”
In St. Petersburg, Letang will team up with three fellow NHL players, New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk, St. Louis Blues starlet Vladimir Tarasenko and Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
His signing was made possible by a recent rule change allowing KHL teams to sign four locked-out NHLers rather than the previous three.