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Penguins to start with Karlsson, Letang on top power-play unit

Jonathan Kozub / National Hockey League / Getty

The Pittsburgh Penguins will let defensemen Erik Karlsson and Kris Letang share the ice on the man advantage.

"The power play is very important to Erik and Kris," head coach Mike Sullivan told ESPN's Greg Wyshynski. "So we'll start with both of them on the top unit. And so we'll see how it goes. We've got a lot of options."

Karlsson's future power-play usage was a notable topic of discussion when Pittsburgh acquired him from the San Jose Sharks over the offseason, as Letang has run the top unit for much of his 17-year career.

There don't appear to be any hard feelings between the two stars, though, with Letang having reportedly endorsed the team's pursuit of the reigning Norris Trophy winner before the deal was struck.

Along with the two veteran defensemen, Pittsburgh's No. 1 power play will likely feature Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jake Guentzel - who may miss some time at the start of the season due to an ankle injury.

The Penguins ranked 14th in the NHL in power-play proficiency last season at 21.7%. Karlsson notched 27 of his 101 points with the man advantage. He has 273 power-play points to his credit through 14 NHL seasons.

Letang contributed 21 power-play points in 2022-23. Since Karlsson broke into the NHL in 2009-10, he and Letang rank first and fifth, respectively, among all blue-liners in power-play production.

Many eyes will be on the new-look Penguins this coming year after they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005-06. The team underwent significant changes to the front office and roster this offseason.

Pittsburgh's season opener comes Oct. 10 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

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