Kris Letang is an amazing talent who had a tough playoff. This enters the discussion because the Penguins are hard against the salary cap and have lots of salary committed to Sidney Crosby and now Evgeni Malkin. The obvious question is whether they can afford another high-priced elite player as he nears unrestricted free agent status. Of course, this may be a 'buy low' opportunity for the Penguins, or failing that another team.
Some critics are jumping on this opportunity to pile on Mr. Letang. He's being knocked for two main reasons, and I think both are off the mark.
First, the idea that he's 'soft' and not physical is inaccurate. Sure, he's no Zdeno Chara or Shane O'Brien or Kevin Bieksa, but he's still 6 ft and 200 lbs, and can take and dish out a hit. Any notion that he's weak is dispelled by going on YouTube and watching his workouts. Don't let his dude haircut fool you, he's a strong kid, hard to knock off his skates.
Second, he's taking his lumps for being 'weak defensively', and watching him against the Bruins there were a few times when he did look pretty bad. Still, I think this was more of a case of the team defence failing, as opposed to one player.
Granted, he's not the best at mucking and grinding in the corners, he'll look bad against Shawn Thornton or Milan Lucic sometimes, but 95% of defencemen will. While he's not a Craig Ludwig, his defensive play is still strong, in a Petr Svoboda-Bryan Leetch kind of way. He'll be quicker to get to the puck in his own zone and savantly move it out again with a good pass or rush. We've all played against guys like that, the defenceman who's not imposing physically but is always around the puck, and when you're trying to deke him or get past him around the boards he just foils you with his stick and he's gone.
Having Kris Letang out on the ice is not a weakness defensively, but a great strength for your team. He'll most often make the right play and transition your team from defence back to offence in a jiffy, and that's gold.