The Pens traded C Mark Letestu to Columbus today in exchange for a fourth-round pick in next year's entry draft. The move should not come as much of a surprise to Pens fans, who have witnessed Letestu's nosedive this season from top pivot to healthy scratch in the span of scarcely over a month. With Sidney Crosby expected to return at some point and given the standout play of centers Richard Park and Joe Vitale, Letestu had precious few opportunities of late to earn a spot back in the lineup. Unfortunately for Mark, he wasn't able to impress the coaching staff enough to warrant more ice time.
The return of a fourth-round pick is honestly a good return for the Pens. It was a foregone conclusion that Mark Letestu would been eventually sent down to Wilkes-Barre Scranton at some point in the near future. Doing so would require Letestu to clear waivers, allowing other NHL clubs to claim him. My own viewpoint is that Mark probably would have cleared waivers unclaimed, but trading him outright certainly was the better option for the Pens. That they found a suitor in Columbus in dire need of someone with Mark's resume was exceptionally fortuitous.
As for the future, I think Columbus provides Mark Letestu an important opportunity to prove he can contribute regularly at the NHL level. The bar for centers is set extremely high here in Pittsburgh. When all the Penguin forwards are healthy, there really is only one spot open for contention amongst centers: on the fourth line. This year, that competition is exceptionally fierce. That, more than anything else, sealed Mark Letestu's fate in Pittsburgh.
Thanks for all your efforts as a Penguin, Mark. Wish you all the best in Columbus!