Letestu goes to Columbus for 4th-round draft pick
The Penguins created an opening for a center on their 23-man roster Tuesday night by trading Mark Letestu to Columbus for a fourth-round draft choice.
Whether Sidney Crosby, who has not played since Jan. 5, will be the guy to fill it -- and whether he will do it as early as Friday, when Dallas visits Consol Energy Center -- remains to be seen.
For now, however, general manager Ray Shero said there is no connection between the trade and Crosby's potential return.
"[The trade] doesn't affect anything [with Crosby]," he said. "I know people might read something into it. ... This isn't a precursor to anything imminent. Nothing has changed with [Crosby]."
Crosby is on the injured-reserve list and, per league rules, would have to be removed from it by 5 p.m. the day he rejoins the lineup.
- Game: Penguins vs. Dallas Stars, Consol Energy Center.
- When: 7:08 p.m. Friday.
- TV: Root Sports.
Shero said there are no plans "at this time" to remove Crosby or right winger Tyler Kennedy from IR, and that team officials plan to "see how [Kennedy] is, and how Sid is" when the team resumes practicing today.
Although no one has ruled out Crosby playing against the Stars, no one inside the organization, including Crosby, has said or done anything to suggest that his return that night is likely.
Crosby, however, figures to return before much longer, which is why the Penguins were willing to part with Letestu.
He was outplayed by Joe Vitale and Richard Park in training camp and the first month of the regular season and became the odd-man out. That Dustin Jeffrey, in Wilkes-Barre on a conditioning assignment, might be ready to take on a larger role soon did nothing to enhance Letestu's job security.
"The play of Richard Park and Joe Vitale, in particular, pushed Mark down a little bit," Shero said.
Letestu dressed for 11 of the Penguins' 15 games but had just one assist and a plus-minus rating of minus-6.
He won 55.3 percent of his faceoffs.
Shero said he did not shop Letestu, but, when other general managers saw media reports that the Penguins might be looking to trade a forward, they began to call him. Letestu had a prominent place in several conversations.
Shero said he finalized the trade Tuesday because it might have fallen through if he had balked.
He added that the Penguins have 21 players on their active roster and, if an extra player is needed for the game against Dallas or one at Carolina Saturday, one will be recalled from Wilkes-Barre.
That player would not be Jeffrey or Steve MacIntyre, who also has joined the Baby Penguins on a conditioning assignment, because Shero and his staff want to see how they respond to getting extensive ice time in the American Hockey League through the weekend.
First Published November 9, 2011 12:23 am