Professional tryout season is upon us, and the Florida Panthers have announced that veteran center Mark Letestu will join them in training camp this year. A “PTO” as it is referred to is an agreement to have a player in camp without any obligation to sign them to an NHL contract. Many players on tryouts will eventually earn a deal somewhere—though, as the Edmonton Oilers found out not necessarily with the team they’re working with—but nothing is guaranteed for Letestu this time around. The 33-year old will be battling for his NHL life after spending the end of last season with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Aaron Portzline of The Athletic in fact tweets that if Letestu can’t find a one-way deal with the Panthers, there could still be a two-way contract waiting for him in Columbus. The two sides had talks recently, and the veteran center had several two-way contract offers. Though last season didn’t go as planned first in Edmonton and then Columbus, there is a good chance that Letestu can still be an effective player. It was just two seasons ago that he recorded 16 goals and 35 points for the Oilers before being one of their best players in the postseason.
For a Panthers team that is looking to compete in a tough Atlantic Division, giving a chance like this to Letestu makes sense. The team isn’t incredibly deep down the middle, and has several unproven young players trying to lock down spots in the bottom-six. Battling out a veteran like Letestu for that opportunity can only improve their performance, and there is a real possibility that he has enough left in the tank to contribute this season. For what would likely be a one-way contract under $1MM, he may be able to snag a spot on the Panthers roster.