Interesting name that could surface as we draw closer to the Mar. 2 trade deadline: Mark Letestu.
The 30-year-old center, in the last of a two-year, $2.5 million deal, doesn’t know if he’ll be back with the Blue Jackets next season and, given their playoff chances are currently between slim and none, Letestu could net some assets in a trade.
“We’ve had talks to say that, basically, we should have talks,” Letestu’s agent, Alain Roy, told the Columbus Dispatch. “There’s pretty much been nothing there. I’m trying to figure out what the team is going to do. I don’t suspect they’re going to make the playoffs at this point.
“So are they going to start moving guys? I’m kind of waiting to see, to be honest with you.”
While his current campaign hasn’t been all that impressive — missing significant time after abdominal surgery — Letestu has played well since coming over from Pittsburgh during the 2011-12 campaign. He actually led the team in goals (with 13) during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign and was a key contributor during last year’s successful regular season, scoring 34 points while appearing in all 82 games, averaging 14:41 TOI per game.
In the club’s opening-round playoff loss to Pittsburgh, Letestu’s role increased (16:51 TOI) and his prowess in the faceoff circle proved vital for the Jackets.
Because of that — and the need for centers across the NHL — Letestu could be a commodity come trade deadline day. What’s more, the Jackets don’t really have much else to dangle; just four other players are UFAs at season’s end (Curtis McElhinney, Jack Skille, Brian Gibbons, Jordan Leopold) and none would have the same market value.