Pens move Letestu to Blue Jackets for pick
The Penguins possess a surplus of centers, and Mark Letestu was off to a poor start this season.
Something had to give, and it did.
Penguins general manager Ray Shero traded Letestu to the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets for a 2012 fourth-round draft pick Tuesday night.
"Joe (Vitale) was doing good things," Letestu said of his fellow center. "Richard (Park), too. I was the odd man out."
With Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Vitale and Park — to say nothing of Sidney Crosby, who hasn't played since Jan. 5 but might be close to returning from a concussion — the Penguins are loaded at center.
Given Letestu's struggles — his play had dropped significantly from his rookie season, as he hadn't scored a goal in 11 games — it seemed only natural to move him.
The Penguins have given no indication that this move signifies an opening of a roster spot for Crosby.
"This was more about Vitale emerging and Park fitting in so well with our team," Shero said. "Plus, we really like Dustin Jeffrey. It had nothing to do with Sid. We have no roster issues right now."
Letestu said leaving will be difficult.
"I'll miss playing with guys like (Crosby and Malkin)," Letestu said. "They're two of the best players in the world. It was like a bonus getting to watch them play every day. But now, I won't have to be behind those stars anymore, so I might get more of a chance to play."
Rumors had been circulating for days that Letestu could be traded.
"It wasn't rocket science," said Letestu's agent, Al Roy. "They were going to move someone."
Shero said he received calls from numerous teams about Letestu yesterday, and he wanted to act quickly on a deal.
"It wasn't like I was shopping him," Shero said. "But when we do finally get healthy, we would have had a roster issue."
It was no secret that coach Dan Bylsma appreciated Letestu, who was never drafted and worked his way through many seasons in the minors.
"I give Dan credit," Letestu said. "He gave me my start as much as I did. It's tough to leave. I'm very thankful to him."
Letestu had never been traded in a professional career that saw him play portions of five seasons with Penguins minor league affiliates Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) and Wheeling (ECHL).
"I remember the first time I saw him play at Wilkes-Barre," Shero said. "I didn't think he was ever going to play (in the NHL). But he worked his way into a good AHL player and then into a good NHL player. He's a good story. I think this is a great opportunity for him."
A surprise last season, Letestu filled in admirably for Crosby, Malkin and Staal. A sound defensive center, Letestu scored 14 goals in 64 games.
The Penguins (9-3-3, 21 points) have the NHL's best record, while Columbus (2-11-1) has the league's worst mark. But Letestu appreciates the opportunity he may received in Columbus.
"It's a nervous situation to go somewhere new," he said. "But one thing I've learned is that hockey players are an accepting bunch. I'm excited about this."
Placed on assignment
Jeffrey and Steve MacIntyre were assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton by the Penguins on Tuesday night.
Each player was placed with the AHL affiliate on a conditioning assignment and will remain on the active roster and collect an NHL salary through the duration.
Jeffrey has appeared in six games. He has yet to record a point and averaged less than 10 minutes of ice time. He spent the first eight games on injured reserve while recovering from surgery last season to repair torn knee ligaments.
MacIntyre has appeared in just four games. He was signed in the offseason to replace Eric Godard as the club's primary enforcer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Based on glowing recommendation, Pens hire Agnew as assistant
- Penguins re-sign Megna, Samuelsson to 1-year deals
- Penguins are saying captain Crosby’s right wrist may need surgery
- Pens hope to reach long-term deal with Brandon Sutter
- Kulemin, Pouliot among top targets for Penguins in NHL free agency
- New Penguins winger Spaling files for arbitration