Columbus’ Letestu the latest locked-out NHLer to join coaching ranks

Say this about the work stoppage — it might have kickstarted a few coaching careers.

That was the word out of Edmonton on Wednesday as 630 CHED Sports radio host Dan Tencer spoke with Mark Letestu, the Columbus Blue Jackets forward that’s currently serving as an assistant coach with Bonnyville of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Letestu, an Alberta native, spent three years playing for Bonnyville before joining Western Michigan University for one season. Pittsburgh signed him as a undrafted free agent in 2007 and, after making his way to the NHL and posting an impressive 2010-11 campaign (14G-13A in 64 games), he was acquired by Columbus last November.

The 27-year-old thrived with the Blue Jackets — scoring 11G-13A-24 points in just 51 games, averaging a career-high 16:15 minutes per game — and now has plenty to offer the Bonnyville team, currently playing in Canada’s second-highest junior hockey tier.

“Hopefully I can [the players] with some of the lessons I had to learn,” Letestu explained. “Some of the trials and tribulations I went through — maybe help them avoid some of them and make their progression a little quicker.”

As mentioned above, Letestu isn’t the only locked-out NHLers to have taken a coaching gig:

— Florida’s Kris Versteeg is behind the bench for the University of Lethbridge. (link)

– Columbus’ RJ Umberger is doing volunteer work at his alma mater, Ohio State. (link)

– Colorado’s Ryan O’Byrne joined the staff of the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies. (link)

– Toronto’s John-Michael Liles is behind the bench at Culver Academy in Indiana. (link)

In a similar vein, veteran goalie Dwayne Roloson was reportedly offered the goaile coaching gig in Toronto, but turned it down to continue his playing career.

Already without Eberle, the Oilers could also be missing Hall tonight

Taylor Hall
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Taylor Hall is sick and reportedly “doubtful” for tonight’s game in Dallas.

Hall did not skate with the Oilers this morning. If he can’t play, Edmonton’s top two lines against the Stars could feature Ryan Nugent-Hopkins between wingers Teddy Purcell and Benoit Pouliot, followed by Connor McDavid centering Lauri Korpikoski and Nail Yakupov.

The Oilers — forced to start the season without top-six winger Jordan Eberle — have scored just once in their first two games, losing 3-1 in St. Louis and 2-0 in Nashville.

Edmonton returns home after tonight’s contest to play St. Louis on Thursday. Then it’s back out on the road for games against Calgary and Vancouver.

Sabres waive d-man Donovan

HKN Sabres Senators
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Buffalo has put blueliner Matt Donovan on waivers, per Sportsnet.

Donovan, 25, signed a one-year deal with the Sabres on the opening day of free agency after spending his entire professional career with the Isles organization.

The fact he’s being waived isn’t a huge shock. Donovan failed to draw into a single Sabres game this year despite a whittled-down blueline; Jake McCabe, recently called up from AHL Rochester, drew into the lineup for Monday’s win over Columbus at the expense of Carlo Colaiacovo, who played the first two games of the year.

The fact both McCabe and Colaiacovo were ahead on the depth chart didn’t bode well for Donovan. Today’s move could also suggest that Zach Bogosian, who hasn’t played this year due to injury, is ready to return.