33-Year-Old Center – Columbus Blue Jackets
Mark Letestu Contract Information:
Signed a three-year, $5.4 million contract with the Oilers in July 2015.
Letestu failed to secure a point in the Blue Jackets' six-game series defeat to the Capitals.
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Mark Letestu: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Letestu scored double-digit goals for the fifth time last season, but also ended up with a disastrous minus-21 rating for a sad Oilers squad. The 31-year-old is a safe bet to end up on the fourth line, as the Oilers sport three younger and more talented options down the middle in Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. While there has been talk of improvement for this coming campaign, itís best not to believe it until you see it with Edmonton. That means Letestuís downside is likely to outweigh his limited upside.
Letestu was a free-agent addition for Edmonton this offseason, after offering solid play for Columbus the previous few seasons. He's in line to pivot the fourth line with the Oilers, but doesn't figure to climb much higher than that with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid, Anton Lander, and Leon Draisaitl all offering more offensive upside from the center spot.
Letestu played in all 82 games last season and scored a career-high 34 points, thanks in large part to his skill in the faceoff circle getting him enough power play time to pick up 11 power play points. Those opportunities could dwindle as the young roster around him improves, but Letestu at the very least has found a home on the Blue Jackets' fourth line.
Useful jack-of-all-trades forward Letestu led the Blue Jackets in goals and was second in scoring last season with 13 tallies and 27 points in 46 games. The team continues to improve its depth though, and with youngsters Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner pushing for playing time up the middle, Letestu could see his shifts decline. Last year's pace was his ceiling, not the start of a new trend.
Letestu scored 11 goals and 24 points in 51 games with Columbus after coming over from the Penguins. He's miscast as a top-six forward, but the Blue Jackets' lack of depth up front will likely continue to get him chances on scoring lines for the time being. He struggled in a larger role with Pittsburgh at the beginning of last season after putting up 14 goals and 27 points in the 2010-11 season.
In 2010, Letestu provided an early-season spark for Pittsburgh and may have created unrealistic fantasy-world expectations in the process. The third- or fourth-line center scored seven points in his first seven games before settling in with 20 points (10, 10) in the next 57 contests. Letestu is neither a physical player (63 hits) nor an aggressive one (13 penalty minutes). Instead, he's a smart player whose value lies more within the framework of the Penguins than on fantasy teams.
Letestu's pedestrian numbers in the NHL last year -- one goal in 10 games -- don't do justice for the way he responded when called up. Letestu, who scored 23 goals and 55 points in 63 AHL contests, earned the trust of coach Dan Bylsma for his dirty work in the corners. He'll likely start the season with the Baby Pens, but he could very easily see 10 minutes or so on a third or fourth line for extended periods of time with Pittsburgh in 2010-11.