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The Team: Mark Letestu

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

The year that was…
When he arrived in Columbus three years ago, Mark Letestu was like many players excited about a fresh start in a new city.

He was stuck behind a few notable names in Pittsburgh and was probably going to be in a limited role, but Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards took over in Columbus not long after Letestu was traded here by the Penguins – and that changed a lot of things.

Richards was familiar with Letestu from his time in the Penguins organization and namely coaching the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins, and he immediately saw value in the versatile and offensively-underrated Letestu, who could play all three forward positions and the point on the power play.

The new management group in Columbus agreed, and it did not take Jarmo Kekalainen long to extend Letestu’s contract for two years through the 2014-15 season. Letestu led the Blue Jackets in goal scoring (13) during the lockout-shortened season and put up 34 points (a new career-high) last season while being one of the team’s most consistent performers.

Click here to view Mark Letestu's 2013-14 "season in photos" gallery.

Where is he now?
This is a big year and a big opportunity for Letestu – for multiple reasons.

His contract expires at the end of the season and he’s playing, in part, to cement his place in Columbus for the long term. Letestu will turn 30 in February and he’s become a respected voice and a calming presence inside the Blue Jackets locker room, and regularly wore an “A” last season.

Letestu and his family have embraced Columbus and decided to make it their permanent home, and another solid season will go a long way toward making sure it remains their home beyond this season.

When he signed his two-year extension in April 2013, Letestu said he didn’t have much interest in exploring unrestricted free agency because of how much he loved Columbus.

Outlook
In the absence of an unsigned Ryan Johansen, every center on the Blue Jackets roster has the floor to step up, grab more ice time and pick up some of the offensive slack.

Letestu, a double-digit goal scorer in each of his three seasons in Columbus, is one of those who will be looked at for stability and some added offense from the center position.

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