Mark Letestu, former Columbus Blue Jackets center, found his way back home on Trade Deadline Day in February. He was traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the Nashville Predators for Pontus Aberg, and he was then flipped to Columbus for a fourth round draft pick. He was brought in to stabilize a fourth line that had struggled for the Blue Jackets for much of the season and provide a veteran (and familiar) presence in the locker room as the Jackets looked to make a playoff push.
Mark Letestu made his debut for the Blue Jackets against the Washington Capitals, scoring his first goal for the team in Nationwide Arena to thunderous applause. Unfortunately, that would be the only goal Letestu scored for the duration of his time in Columbus. Letestu also posted three assists in 12:10 per night to go along with winning 52.9% of his faceoffs, good for third on the team among players who regularly took them.
Letestu was awarded his old locker in the room and provided a veteran voice as the team pushed for and made the playoffs. In the series against the Washington Capitals, however, his time on ice decreased to 9:02 per night and he posted zero points in the series while watching his faceoff percentage drop to 48.4%.
Letestu is a beloved figure in the locker room and in the community; Letestu also loves Columbus, having built a home here. Letestu is an unrestricted free agent this summer and will turn 34 over the course of next season. His age and declining production make it highly unlikely that Columbus re-signs the veteran center this summer. If that is the case, it will be a sad moment in Columbus. Letestu is a fan favorite (author included) and he has long committed to the city.
If this was his last hurrah in the Union Blue, I am glad he was able to come back and play as part of one last playoff race here.
Mark Letestu 2017-18 Columbus Stats
Games played: 20
Time on ice: 12:10
Penalty Minutes: 0
Corsi For: 43.8%
Mark Letestu 2017-18 Total Stats
Games played: 80
Time on ice: 12:51
Penalty Minutes: 10
Corsi For: 49.0%
Mark Letestu made his return to a town that embraced him and scored his only goal in his homecoming. It was a surreal moment that earned him a standing ovation from the fans.
Letestu saw his effectiveness and, consequently, his ice time decline in the playoffs to less than ten minutes per night. It was a sad development for a beloved player, but is a natural development as a player ages.
If this was the end of Mark Letestu’s time here, I am glad he was able to be a part of one last playoff run here.
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