The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired a fourth-round draft pick in the 2012 NHL Draft – which will be held in Pittsburgh – from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Mark Letestu, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.
Pittsburgh will now own eight selections in the 2012 NHL Draft, slated to be held June 22-23, 2012 at CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins have one choice in Rounds 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7, and two in the fourth round.
Letestu established himself as an NHL player last season, scoring 14 goals and 13 assists in a breakout campaign that saw him rose to top line minutes with injuries to players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. This season Letestu, a former coach's favorite, found himself often on the 4th line or the odd man out of the lineup.
This trade leaves the Penguins with 21 players on the NHL roster, potentially opening up a spot for Crosby's long awaited return from IR. However, it may be early to jump to that conclusion- Columbus has been in a tailspin and badly needs centers. They probably pushed the issue to make Shero make this trade now. As of now, even without Letestu the Pens could still line up Malkin, Jordan Staal, Richard Park, Joe Vitale, Craig Adams, Dustin Jeffrey as all potential centers. So it's a little premature to say this move definitely signals Crosby's immediate return.
As for Letestu, this should be a good chance for him to re-establish his NHL career and hopefully be able to get back on track. For whatever reason he had just an awful start of the year, and for a team that has Crosby-Malkin-Staal up the middle, it's obviously going to be tough to get much a chance to play.
For the team, hey they just mined an undrafted free agent into a very good AHL contributor into an NHL player into a future draft pick. Good asset management there to develop Letestu, give him a chance to stick in the NHL and then still get something of value out of him.