The Penguins didn't do a new contract with Sergei Gonchar after last season because it wasn't fiscally prudent to guarantee him a third year at his age, 37 at the time. They also had Kris Letang to run their power play.

The Penguins traded promising offensive defenseman Alex Goligoski to Dallas for power forward James Neal in February to help them not just this season, but for many seasons to come. They still had Kris Letang to quarterback their power play.

That's a lot of faith in Kris Letang. He hasn't lived up to it.

That isn't to say the Gonchar decision and the Goligoski trade weren't good moves by Penguins general manager Ray Shero. They were. That doesn't mean Letang, who turned 24 Sunday, won't be a terrific defenseman for the next decade. He has a real chance to be just that. It doesn't even mean Letang won't be the hero tonight when the Penguins play the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series at Consol Energy Center. He's due.

It just means Letang hasn't been what the Penguins expected he would be since two things happened at virtually the same time: People started talking about him as a Norris Trophy candidate and teammate Sidney Crosby went out of the lineup with concussion-related symptoms.