Last summer we saw Chiarelli trade Boyd Gordon for Korpikoski; a move which angered some people. Gordon was a great defensive centre, and a right shot to top it off. The Wagon Line of Hendricks, Gordon, Klinkhammer provided Edmonton with a great shutdown trio. Trading the pivot of that line for a 3rd/4th line winger with a bloated contract was... strange.
Or it least it would have been if one day later the Oilers didn't pick up Letestu in free agency. Chiarelli obviously had a deal in place with Letestu and his agent prior, and the moment the doors opened for business July 1st Letestu was an Oiler.
For that reason I choose to look at this as a Gordon for Letestu trade (with Korpikoski being an added bonus... or detriment depending on who you are). Let's start by looking at Gordon and Letestu's numbers from the 2014-2015 season.
Boyd Gordon had 13 points in 68GP (6G 7A). He averaged roughly 13 minutes a night. More importantly he took over 1200 faceoffs winning 56.4%. Also of note, almost 80% of those were defensive zone starts.
Contrast that with Letestu who also had 13 points (7G 6A) in 54 games played. He also averaged about 13 minutes a night but took under half the number of faceoffs. Letestu took 603 faceoffs, winning 52.9% of them. 57.3% of them were defensive zone starts.
Gordon had one year left on his contract at 3 million dollars. He also would be turning 32 at the beginning of the season. Letestu was a year younger and signed for the next three seasons at 1.8 million, almost half the price of Gordon. There was also the offensive upside. The year before Letestu had 34 points but a shortened 2014-2015 campaign hurt him.
Gordon was a warrior. He was a versatile player who often started in his own end, usually playing against the top players of the league. He took a ridiculous amount of faceoffs for Edmonton. Gordon and Nuge took the heavy lifting for faceoffs (Nuge had 1347, most on the team). The Oilers had very few players that could close to Gordon's defensive abilities and they needed all the help they could get in that regard.
What About Last Season?
Gordon had 4 points (2G 2A) in 65 games. He didn't have to take as many faceoffs but still excelled in the role. In over 900 faceoffs he won 57.8%. 76% of those were defensive zone draws.
Letestu had 25 points (10G 15A) in 82GP. He took over 1100 faceoffs, winning 51.3% 62% of those were defensive draws. Letestu saw time on a variety of lines, occasionally jumping into the top 6 and also had PP time.
Korpikoski is an overpaid 4th line winger who is a huge liability in possession. For reasons that escape me, McLellan seems to like using him and I believe he will be back next season.
Personally I like Letestu. Gordon was a heck of a player for the Oil but it's obvious that his NHL time will soon come to an end. While Gordon thrives as a defensive specialist, Letestu is a more than adequate 4th line centre who has the offensive capabilities to slot up onto a third line from time to time. For what he brings his 1.8 million dollar contract I believe is reasonable. Not a steal by any means, but reasonable. I would be much happier if his deal was done after this season but unfortunately we will more than likely have to discuss this again next summer.
Been writing on here more consistently the past few months and I'd like to thank those who have taken the time to comment (even if it's just to tell me how garbage these blogs are).
A friend and I have started our own Podcast called Downtown Hockey. What we lack in charisma, knowledge, and wit we make up for in...effort?
Either way we've started it for our own enjoyment and if we get listeners that's just a bonus. You can follow us @Downtown_Hockey or check out the podcast here. Also available on iTunes!
As always, thanks for reading!