According to a report from Edmonton Journal reporter and Edmonton Oilers insider Jim Matheson, Oilers centre Mark Letestu is receiving considerable attention on the NHL’s trade market and will more than likely be moved before Monday’s 1pm MT trade deadline.
The teams believed to have made offers on Letestu already are the Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets (both former teams for Letestu) and the Toronto Blue Jackets. Any mention of the Penguins should surprise no one, as they’ve been linked with Letestu for seemingly weeks now. With pivot Riley Sheahan now establishing himself as a solid 3rd line option in Pittsburgh now though, has the Penguins’ interest in Letestu waned? It seems like just a week or so ago that Penguins GM Jim Rutherford was desperate to plug a hole at the centre ice position, but Sheahan’s emergence has cooled the trade rumour hot stove. At least temporarily.
As for the Blue Jackets, on paper they make a LOT of sense. The team is currently using sophomore Lukas Sedlak in a 4th line centre role and could use a veteran like Letestu for some much needed playoff depth. With Pierre-Luc Dubois, Alex Wennberg and Brandon Dubinsky holding down the top three centre-ice positions in Columbus, Letestu could slot in comfortably on the fourth line.
The Leafs, seemingly involved in just about every trade rumour this season, are in the hunt for a depth centre, as well. Head coach Mike Babcock seems to have soured on veteran Dominic Moore and rookie Frederik Gauthier as the team’s fourth line pivot and it’s expected that general manager Lou Lamoriello will make a move at the deadline to bolster his team’s centre ice depth. Auston Matthews, Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak and Mark Letestu has the makings of a pretty strong group down the middle. But, it’s also believed that the Leafs are eyeing former Babcock disciple Luke Glendenning from the Detroit Red Wings.
So… what does this all mean? Is it a guarantee that Letestu gets moved before Monday’s deadline? No. Is it likely? Seems that way. As with any NHL trade though, it all comes down to the return, but let’s be clear: the Oilers will not hit a homerun with a Letestu trade. The 33-year-old veteran is a pending unrestricted free-agent and represents little more than a playoff rental for most teams. While he does carry some trade value, there are other options on the market for teams out there in the hunt. If Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli can manage to get a mid-round pick or a decent prospect back in exchange for Letestu, he should take the offer and run!
Wherever Letestu ends up, he appears ready for the next chapter in his life.
“I’ve prepared by family, kids, people outside my immediate family,” said Letestu in conversation with Matheson yesterday.. “My oldest gets it. And now that he’s in first grade, the kids won’t be coming with me if it happens. They understand dad might have to switch jerseys and that’s pretty cool and they might get to pick a number. You have to make it fun for them and not a negative experience.”