By: Casey Shea

Well, it’s been an interesting week in the world of sports hasn’t it?

Aside from the Penn State scandal, there was plenty of news surrounding the Penguins this week.

First up, the Penguins traded Mark Letestu to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a fourth round pick.

A lot of people have asked me if the Pens got enough for Letestu in this deal. My response has simply been, I think they got more than they wanted.

Letestu had been reduced to fourth line minutes, when he actually got into the lineup this season.

When the team was healthy, he seemed to be the odd man out.

Now, with Dustin Jeffrey and Sidney Crosby (hopefully) close to returning, Letestu became expendable.

Last season, he had 14 goals and 13 assists in 64 games with the Penguins. However, he only had one assists in 11 games this season to go along with a minus-6 rating.

The Penguins continue to be very deep at the center position even without Crosby. So, why not cash in on that by getting something for Letestu?

The Blue Jackets are by far the worst team in the league, which comes as a huge surprise to me. I honestly thought they had a chance to contend for a low seed in the playoffs, but Letestu is just a small piece to the solution.

Assuming Columbus remains at or near the basement of the league, the fourth round pick the Penguins acquired in the deal essentially becomes like a late third round pick.

The worst case scenario here is that the Penguins use that fourth rounder, or another mid-round pick at the trade deadline to bring in the traditional rental winger for the playoff run.

Of course, I’m only going on the pattern of events over the past few trade deadlines involving Bill Guerin, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Alex Kovalev, etc. for that last statement.

All in all, I think it’s a good deal. Letestu now gets the chance to be an everyday player in the league and the Penguins free up a roster spot for when Crosby returns.

Speaking of his return, I still don’t think we see it until at least December.

As I stated two weeks ago, Crosby had not taken any extensive contact in practice since being cleared. The last two weeks were his first real taste of contact since being cleared and I did not think for an instant that he would play this weekend.

Based on the timeline of events in his recovery, there hasn’t been much, if anything, that has only taken two weeks to move on to the next step.

Essentially, this is the biggest step to take. If the Penguins or the doctors have not rushed a single step to this point, why would they now?

I still think we’re looking at the middle of next December for a return. However, the long break from Jan. 1-6 looks like a pretty good week to ramp it up again.

The next time the Penguins have more than two days off between games is around Christmas.

The reason that is significant is because the team likely will not hold many rigorous contact practices with one day between games.

There are seven two-day breaks between now and Christmas, so there will be some opportunities for Crosby to engage in contact drills.

That’s why I’m sticking by my previous prediction for a return date sometime between the middle of December and the first week of January.

However, that’s all it is – a prediction. I’m basing it solely on how the rest of this process has gone.

Furthermore, there’s no need to rush him back because the Penguins have the most points in the league after last night’s 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars.

Think about that for a minute. The Penguins hold the top spot in the league right now, without Sidney Crosby.

For now, let’s shift the focus from Crosby Watch to the team that is on the ice.

Sid will be back when he is ready.

Whenever that may be.

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