Coming off a relatively subpar 2018 season for two different clubs, the Florida Panthers took a flier on Mark Letestu, inking the savvy veteran centerman on a professional tryout offer.
As it currently stands, Letestu’s odds of clinching a spot on the opening night lineup are extremely minimal, quite frankly.
Mark experienced an incredibly disappointing season on both ends of the ice in the previous season. While suiting up in 80 regular season contests for the Edmonton Oilers and the Columbus Blue Jackets, the natural centerman registered an uninspiring slash line of 9G, 14A, for 23Pts. To make matters worse, Letestu recorded an egregious plus-minus rating of -17.
The 23-point season in 2018 was ultimately a 12 point drop-off from Mark Letestu’s best season as an NHLer in 2017, where he produced 16G, 19A, for 35Pts (career-high mark).
The native of Alberta currently has a non-guaranteed contract with the Panthers, meaning Mark must impress throughout the course of training camp and preseason action in order to obtain a guaranteed contract.
If Mark simply doesn’t demonstrate improvements from the previous season, he will simply become waived or released.
Ultimately, FLA’s first three center positions are clearly secured, with the likes of Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, and Henrik Borgström guaranteed those roles, respectively. Letestu will essentially square off against 37-year-old veteran Derek MacKenzie for the 4th line center position unless he’s comfortable playing on the wing.
Effectively, since FLA passed on the option of buying out the unproductive MacKenzie, it appears Letestu might play on the wing, depending on whether or not the 33-year-old remains on the club.
Most likely, Letestu will simply serve a role as a veteran camp body, since there is practically minimal room on the current roster to accommodate for Letestu. Although, there’s certainly a slight chance that Mark Letestu makes the team, especially with the recent surgery performed on veteran Jamie McGinn.
However, in comparing both MacKenzie and Letestu – only factoring statistics into the equation – the numbers convey Letestu is the superior centerman over MacKenzie. With that being the case, there’s a good chance that Letestu beats ex-Panthers captain for the spot.
While Mark Letestu is certainly a solid 4th line player, one cannot deny that he’s on the decline and isn’t getting any younger.
The Panthers should simply enable a youngster to play as opposed to the aging Letestu. In all likelihood, considering Mark Letestu was signed on a player tryout offer, the 33-year-old isn’t expected to receive a roster spot once opening night arrives for your Florida Panthers.