In any successful NHL organization, minor league development systems are incredibly important. Some of that is based on the coaching staff and playing opportunity, but many believe that some level of success is also required to prepare young players for the next level. That’s why teams go out and sign veteran minor league options on day one of free agency, even if bigger names are still out there. That’s exactly what might happen with Mark Letestu, who is looking for a two-way contract and has now been linked to the New York Rangers by both Larry Brooks of the New York Post and Aaron Portzline of The Athletic. Letestu plans on playing somewhere this season as he comes off his first minor league season in a decade.
Now 34, Letestu suited up 72 times for the Cleveland Monsters of the AHL last season and was their best player on many nights. The veteran center ended up with 50 points in the regular season and another five in the playoffs, showing that he certainly isn’t finished just yet. There was a time not too long ago that Letestu was a solid depth option for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Edmonton Oilers, routinely scoring double-digit goals and somewhere around 30 points. His transition to the minor leagues would only help the Hartford Wolf Pack, who finished dead last in the Atlantic Division last season with a 29-36-11 record.
Letestu obviously has a connection with new Rangers president John Davidson, who joined New York after years building the Blue Jackets into a solid organization from top to bottom. Brooks suggests that the team could offer the pending free agent forward a minor league guarantee between $400-500K given there is no salary cap at that level, a strategy that he believes may be brought up in the next CBA talks.