Pittsburgh's Mark Letestu is off to a fast start with four goals and seven points in seven games. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)
It was a long, roundabout way of getting to the NHL, but Pittsburgh forward Mark Letestu is there now and he’s suddenly caught the eye of fantasy owners.
That’s the power of Evgeni Malkin. If Coach Dan Bylsma sticks the guy sitting in Section 103, Row 9, Seat 4 on Malkin’s line, fantasy owners will have interest.
The undrafted Letestu was signed in March of 2007 after just one year in the CCHA where he led Western Michigan in scoring (Tampa Bay part-timer Paul Szczechura was second on the team). After a ho-hum rookie-pro campaign, Letestu made big strides over his next two seasons for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, posting 116 points in 136 games. He fared OK in a couple of call-ups to the big club last season, including scoring his first NHL goal and even getting into some playoff action.
This season, a strong camp combined with an injury to Jordan Staal put Letestu on the opening day roster and he has made the most of it. By Game 3, the 25-year-old was playing with Malkin and that caught the attention of the fantasy world. He has since been replaced on that line by Mike Comrie (again), but that hasn’t stopped his production any. With seven points in seven games, Letestu has earned most of his stats the hard way. That is to say, his linemates in the early going have been the likes of Mike Rupp, Eric Godard, Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke. But he is getting secondary power play time.
The prognosis for Letestu? As a No. 4 center on your roster, he is more than suitable. He’ll probably get 10 points in the next 15 games and there is also some upside for more, given the Penguins’ tendency to switch lines around. However, I would be surprised if his production continues after Staal returns, which is expected to be at the end of this month.
But Letestu does have a Patrick Sharp-type tendency to overachieve and earn his way up the depth chart, so you never know...
Colorado rearguard John-Michael Liles has had an incredible start to his season, with eight points in six games (and a plus-6 rating to boot). He has a point in every game so far this year and is consistently logging more than 20 minutes of ice time. This is the offensive blueliner the Avs thought they had when they re-signed him in 2008 to a lofty contract. He’s very streaky, but is still a good bet to top his career high of 49 points...
A great candidate to buy low right now is Jakub Voracek. Coach Scott Arniel is (rightfully, in this man’s opinion) sticking with the combination of Nikita Filatov, Derick Brassard and Voracek and eventually the line will take off. Voracek, despite his one point in four games to start the year, will still take the next step and build on his 50 points from a season ago...
Nicholas Drazenovic, the St. Louis farmhand, has shown little in the way of progress in his first three seasons in the American League. He had modest offensive talent in junior hockey while playing for Prince George of the Western League. He’s finally showing a bit of that touch in Peoria, tallying five goals and eight points in six contests to start the campaign. Continued excellence – even if he slows to just slightly below the point-per-game threshold – will see him get a cup of coffee with the Blues. The 23-year-old’s upside is that of a third-line center or complementary winger.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Tuesday and Saturday. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.