Mark Letestu Isn't the Blue Jackets' Savior (and He Doesn't Have to Be)

By Sam Blazer on February 27, 2018 at 10:17 am
Mark Letestu tries to thread a pass to a teammate against the Vegas Golden Knights
Stephen R. Sylvanie – USA TODAY Sports

On a lazy Sunday in February, the Columbus Blue Jackets welcomed back a familiar face in forward Mark Letestu.

The club acquired him in a pseudo three-team trade, a move met with celebration and a fair amount of trepidation as well.

It makes sense. For a team that has been struggling all season to score goals, they bring in a player that is only a marginal upgrade over the players on the third and fourth lines.

You can also view this as an admittance of fault for letting Letestu go in the first place as he has flourished while with the Edmonton Oilers. 

Either way, it doesn't really indicate why this is a savvy move for the Blue Jackets. 

The Blue Jackets have been a black hole in the bottom-six. They haven't been able to get any offense, and they haven't been able to get any meaningful playing time on defense either. Lukas Sedlak's numbers at center aren't terrible, in fact, his shot differential numbers are similar to Letestu. The issue is the lack of trust and the lack of ice time for Sedlak.

He doesn't skate more than 10 minutes a game and it leaves the rest of the lineup vulnerable to matchup issues. Letestu immediately becomes a much more intense threat on both sides of the puck – not to mention he's a player that can contribute effectively on the power play and penalty kill.

Sedlak has the ability and toolkit to be a swiss army knife, but Letestu is already a fully equipped version. They don't have to hope and wait that he figures it out. They can stick him in the lineup and have full faith with him on the ice.

The Blue Jackets don't need Letestu to be a difference maker on the ice. They need him to be himself. They aren't going to instantly become a magical penalty killing unit, and they aren't going to be legendary power play either. They just need a player that can fill a role and not have to worry about the slot constantly.

It doesn't feel like a big task, but on a team that is filled with question marks, it's a worry that has gotten too big to overlook.

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