Every passing minute between now and the NHL’s February 26th trade deadline must feel like an eternity for Edmonton Oilers centerman Mark Letestu.
“There’s daily articles about it (trade deadline). I know my name is out there but you try to be as professional as you can be, come to work hard for the guys in this room …. until you’re not in this room. My focus is here,” said Letestu to the Edmonton Sun’s Jim Mattheson after the Oilers game against the Florida Panthers on Monday evening.
Because Letestu’s contract expires this offseason and because so many teams are looking for experienced centers to add some depth for the playoffs, Letestu is likely to be a hot commodity on the trade market.
“If this happens to me, the obligation of the team is to get the best deal possible. I’ll go to a team and be a pro about it. I’m in a situation where I’m easy to move (UFA). I’m an expiring asset and there may be something they can get for me,” said Letestu.
If in fact he is traded prior to the deadline Letestu, who is a leader in the Oilers dressing room, wouldn’t count out the possibility of re-signing in Edmonton this offseason. The Elk Point, Alberta native clearly loves life as an Oiler, but is coming to grips with the business of pro hockey.
“I think my agent talked to [Oilers management] but there’s lots of shoes to drop before they get to me. We have cap situations. They signed Connor and Leon (last summer) and there’s RFA’s coming up to sign (Darnell Nurse, Matt Benning, Ryan Strome). Patty is another UFA. Sometimes you get shuffled to the back of the line,” he said. “When the season’s gone the way it has, revisiting it (talks on a new deal) doesn’t seem likely. We’ll see where it goes.”
One thing’s for sure, if this is in fact Letestu’s final run as an Oiler, he’s been a extremely worthwhile pickup. The veteran has put up back to back 10+ goal seasons and is on pace to hit that mark again this season. His 16 goals and 35 points in 78 games last season represents a career high.