With Letang out, defenseman Matt Niskanen has assumed a top-four role on defense, paired with free-agent returnee Rob Scuderi. Niskanen has produced three assists and a plus-4 rating.
There was a time in August when the consensus among those outside the Penguins organization was that Niskanen would be traded for salary-cap relief.
There was a time in August when Kobasew was not sure whether he would land work in a league dealing with a salary-cap decrease for the first time.
He always had his eye on the Penguins.
“I watched this team a lot the last couple of seasons because of all their games on national TV,” Kobasew said. “I had a pretty good idea of what they do and what I could do for them.