Some scary news from the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday as coach Paul Maurice revealed that forward Mark Letestu will be shut down for the next six months due to a virus called myocarditis.
It is an inflammation of the heart muscle that forces it to work harder to pump blood throughout the body.
He is expected to make a full recovery, but will be limited to only very light activity — and no hockey — for at least the next six months. That timeline will pretty much end his 2019-20 regular season.
The 34-year-old Letestu is in his first year with the Jets after signing with the team in free agency over the summer. He has played in seven of the team’s games so far this season but has been out of the lineup for more than two weeks.
Originally signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins as an undrafted free agent, Letestu did not make his NHL debut until age 24 and has managed to carve out a strong career for himself as a role player for four different teams. In 567 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers, and Jets he has scored 93 goals and 210 total points, while scoring at least 10 goals in a season six different times.
When you play 560 regular-season games despite going undrafted, you might just pick up a few tricks.
In the case of Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Letestu, apparently one thing he’s learned is to use mustard to treat/prevent cramps. He was seen consuming a mustard packet on the bench during Thursday’s 5-3 preseason loss to the Edmonton Oilers. You can watch that appalling spectacle in the video above this headline.
As you enjoy that clip, slather on a few thoughts:
It’s especially admirable that Letestu just goes for it, efficiently eating the mustard as if he was eating Go-Gurt. You can’t coach that level of sticktoitiveness; you either have it, or you don’t.
That said, I think it’s pretty clear that Letestu didn’t enjoy the experience. Allow us to take the Zapruder route and capture him wincing:
That’s the reaction most of us had to watching the clip, so that’s a mood.
Huge bonus points to whoever put that NHL.com video together for using the same stock music that “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” uses between certain scenes. Does this make Letestu a McPoyle, or would he more appropriately fit in with Frank and Charlie, who are known for unorthodox cuisine?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve long been more familiar with players chugging pickle juice to ward off cramps. NBC Sports Philadelphia chronicled how pickle juice saved the day during a ridiculously hot Dallas Cowboys – Philadelphia Eagles game back in 2000, while New Jersey Devils forward Blake Coleman drew enough attention consuming pickle juice that he claimed that he might endorse his own stuff, according to SI’s Mike Blinn in 2018.
This is all a helpful reminder that we’re almost at the point where we’ll see Alex Ovechkin and others using smelling salts on the bench. That’s usually a treat.
Trade deadline day could be a snoozefest at this rate.
The trade: Predators acquire Mark Letestu from the Edmonton Oilers for Pontus Aberg. Predators then trade Letestu to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.
Why the Predators are making this trade: Picks are nice. Teams like draft picks. Aberg also hadn’t played in 10 days and his future in the Music City was in doubt. Perhaps the deal is part of a bigger plan for general manager David Poile, who apparently are in the running for Erik Karlsson. (Wouldn’t that be something.)
Or maybe another conspiracy?
Wonder if NSH shipped Aberg to EDM and took the fourth-rounder from CBJ to keep Letestu from WPG.
Why the Oilers are making this trade: Two words: Fire. Sale. The Oilers need to dump pending unrestricted free agents and get something in return. Aberg is the return. He wasn’t a fit on a very strong Predators team but perhaps could offer something to the Oilers going forward. He has one year left on a two-year, $1.3 million deal.
Or maybe not:
Pontus Aberg, the newest Edmonton Oiler, has a -6.34 Rel CF% 5-on-5. The worst among regular Nashville forwards this season.
Why the Blue Jackets are making this trade: The Blue Jackets needed help in their bottom six and get some with veteran center Letestu, who will likely be hungry to perform as he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Letestu knows the area well, having played parts of four season with the Blue Jackets. He has eight goals and 19 points in 60 games this season.
Perhaps some further context as well:
Aberg to Edmonton for Letestu.
Letestu to Columbus for a 4th.
So that means Nashville effectively traded Aberg for a 4th.
By the way, Letestu is building his off season home in Columbus.
Who won this trade: Another one of these even deals, for the most part. Blue Jackets get depth, Predators grab a pick. But what do the Oilers gain in Aberg? He’s a cheap player going forward, but his metrics aren’t great. Maybe a change of scenery will help. Edmonton got something for a pending UFA, so that’s something.
There are whispers that the Winnipeg Jets could stand pat at the trade deadline and get away with it.
It’s not necessarily the most popular opinion, but one that has gained a small following given how their season has shaped up to this point.
The growth of rookie forward Kyle Connor, who scored his 21st goal of the season on Sunday, has been impressive. Connor went from a mediocre training camp that saw him begin the season in the American Hockey League to play a vital role on Winnipeg’s top line with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.
Jack Roslovic began the season in the AHL and was only called up recently to fill in the gaps as Winnipeg’s health began to deteriorate. Now, Roslovic, a dynamic player with speed and play-making ability, has performed so well that he likely won’t see the minors again.
The Jets are also anticipating the return of towering center Adam Lowry (out with an upper-body injury) and defenseman Jacob Trouba (out with a lower-body injury) by the time the playoffs roll around, turning into quasi-trade deadline additions.
The Jets, who have scored 13 goals in their past two games, are as good as any other team in the league when they’re firing on all cylinders. A recent adjustment to their lines — one that included putting 20-plus goal scorers Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine on the third unit — has diversified Winnipeg’s top-nine to a scary extent.
The Jets have three lines that are capable, at the moment, of putting up a lot of points on any given night. So the argument that the Jets don’t need to add someone to their top-six, or even their top-nine, has some merit.
That said, as the old sports cliche goes: there’s always room to improve. The Jets could still use some depth on the fourth line. Matt Hendricks, while a good presence in the room and a decent penalty killer, isn’t the quickest player on the ice. Joel Armia shows flashes of brilliance and then goes on long stretches where he’s mostly invisible. The return of Brandon Tanev from injury will be useful in that regard. But adding a budget center could be the shrewd move general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff needs to solidify a solid fourth-line combo.
On defense, Ben Chiarot has played admirably in place of Trouba but he may be a surplus to requirements when Trouba returns. One wonders what Cheveldayoff is thinking when it comes to Toby Enstrom, however. The diminutive defenseman had a tough outing in the physical department during the Jets last playoff appearance — their only visit since returning to Winnipeg — during the 2014-15 season. And his injury history should have the Jets thinking about at least shoring up that possibility.
The Jets could turn to Chiarot’s size and physicality in a similar scenario or could turn to the trade market for another option.
This is a good headache for any general manager. The Jets are one of the top teams in the NHL without having made a trade thus far this season.
Their goaltending has been spectacular, their power play has been lethal and their penalty kill is up near the top. Bell MTS Place has become a place teams go to die and the Jets, at the moment, would have home-ice advantage in the first round.
It makes for an interesting week leading up to Monday’s trade deadline.
Here’s a look at what the Jets could be/are considering:
Rick Nash: A pricey rental player that would add size and scoring to the Jets top-six. But pricey is the key word here and it’s unlikely the Jets want to dig into the farm to own a guy for a couple months.
Mike Hoffman: Skilled and quick with the ability to score. He would be a good fit for the Jets, but as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on the weekend, Hoffman has a limited no-movement clause and Winnipeg is on the list. With term left on his deal, the price wouldn’t be cheap either.
Patrick Maroon and Mark Letestu: Two depth forwards that would bolster Winnipeg’s bottom end. Maroon isn’t the fastest guy around, and he’s not scoring 27 goals like he did last season playing with Connor McDavid. But a fresh start after not getting a contract in Edmonton might be just what Maroon needs to get his confidence up and running. Letestu, meanwhile, offers bottom-six depth up the middle. Matt Hendricks, currently occupying the fourth-line center role, didn’t play in last year’s playoffs for the Oilers. He could make way again depending on what the Jets do at the deadline. These would be cheaper options.
Ryan Hartman: It would be odd for the Chicago Blackhawks to trade a 23-year-old budding forward to a divisional rival, but stranger things have happened. Hartman had 19 goals in his rookie season last year and is playing on a very poor Blackhawks team this year. The price tag is likely high on him as well.
Mats Zuccarello: The New York Rangers announced they were holding a yard sale, and Zuccarello is a name that’s been thrown around when it comes to the Jets. Zuccarello is a good penalty killer and plays a game, not unlike Mathieu Perreault, who the Jets covet. Zuccarello also comes with an extra year on his contract. and could help the Jets beyond this season.
Nick Holden: Continuing with the Rangers fire sale, Holden could be an option. He’s a left shot defenseman that could fill in for an injury to Enstrom. Holden’s possession metrics don’t jump off the page, but he’s a serviceable third-pairing guy who can play bigger minutes in a pinch.
Jan Rutta: One player the Blackhawks may be willing to part ways with is defenseman Rutta, who is on a one-year entry-level deal that’s set to expire at the end of this season. Rutta shoots right and has better possession metrics than Holden.
Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Edmonton Oilers.
For a ninth consecutive season the Edmonton Oilers found themselves on the outside looking in when the playoffs began last spring.
Edmonton’s 24-44-14 record was good for 13th in the Western Conference and 28th overall.
As a result of another poor regular season, the Oilers landed in the NHL Draft lottery and for a fourth time in six years won the first overall selection picking Connor McDavid at the June draft.
Jordan Eberle led the Oilers in scoring with 24 goals and 63 points in 81 games, but finished well off his career-high of 34 goals set during the 2011-12 season.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins continued to see his goal totals rise setting a new career-high with 24 goals and matched his personal-best 56 points.
Injuries limited Taylor Hall to just 53 games. The 23-year-old scored 14 goals and 24 assists. His 38 points were good for third in Oilers scoring.
Justin Schultz was the top scoring defenseman with six goals goals and 31 points to go along with a minus-17 rating in 81 games.
In goal, Ben Scrivens shouldered the load going 15-26-11 while posting a 3.16 G.A.A. and a .890 save percentage in 57 appearances.
The biggest off-season moves for the Oilers came off the ice as Peter Chiarelli replaced Craig MacTavish as the club’s general manager and hired Todd McLellan to take over as head coach from Todd Nelson.
On the ice, Chiarelli addressed some of the club’s biggest issues trading for goaltender Cam Talbot and defenseman Griffin Reinhart.
Edmonton also added depth trading veteran Boyd Gordon to Arizona for Lauri Korpikoski.
Chiarelli dipped into the free agent pool and inked free agent defenseman Andrej Sekera and center Mark Letestu.