Last year when the Oilers season didn’t play out the way anyone expected, pending UFA players had to be shipped out for incoming assets. On February 25th, Mark Letestu was traded to the Nashville Predators in exchange for 24-year-old winger, Pontus Aberg.
Nashville immediately traded Mark Letestu to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 4th round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry draft. At the time of the trade it seemed pretty reasonable. The Oilers got a player who makes 650k per year for the upcoming season. He’d never really found any success in Nashville, but maybe the Oilers would be able to find a role for him to excel. If they could, that could be one of the very few value contracts on this team.
Pontus Aberg was selected 47th overall in the 2nd round of the 2012 NHL Entry draft. It’s interesting to see how that pick moved around though. It was the Wild pick originally, they traded it with Brent Burns to the Sharks for Charlie Coyle, Devin Setoguchi, and a 2011 first round pick. The Sharks then traded it to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Dominic Moore at the trade deadline in 2012. Lastly, the Lightning needed to shore up their goaltending after the 2012 season, so just prior to the draft, they traded a few picks including this one to the Predators in exchange for Anders Lindback. Remember, backup goaltenders sometimes look really good depending on the system.
Eventually, the Predators made their way to the podium with that pick, and selected Pontus Aberg. Aberg didn’t play a single NHL game until the 2016-2017 season. In fact, to date he’s only played 68 NHL games. One thing he did to, is have an incredible AHL career prior to making the big leagues. Now a lot of people look at his AHL numbers and don’t think it’s anything special, but I assure you it is. That is a very hard league in which to score. When you see numbers in the 40s and 50s, or pushing a point per game, you know you’re dealing with at least some sort of talent. Those are actually really good numbers. The best attribute he has is his speed, and not being Drake Caggiula.
What have you done for me lately?:
He came to Edmonton and scored 0.5 points per game in 16 games. He didn’t look particularly good doing so, his defensive work isn’t great, and he needs a really good center to drive the play for him. Typically, he has ugly possession numbers.
That being said, 0.5 points per game is fantastic for 650k. That’s the kind of production we really need from players who don’t make very much. The only issue is how hard it is to put him on one of the top lines with the other available players. He’s also not going to be doing anyone any good on the bottom lines.
What does the future hold?:
Well, that’s really tough to say. When this list came out and I saw I was assigned Aberg, I wasn’t all that convinced he’d still be on the team by August 20th. His St. Patrick’s Day incident in Florida is fairly well documented. Between games against the Lightning and Panthers, he skipped practice and was bench for the following game. Coach McLellan called it ‘Serious’, there might be more to it that just having few drinks and turning into an Orangutan, but from everything I’ve heard about Aberg since, the Oilers are open to moving him.
So here’s the thing, can the organization look at his contract and try and move on from last March? Will they utilize his speed and shot? Maybe let him be a powerplay specialist and other duties like Sam Gagner? I think that’s about the best you can get of him?
Personally I think his days in the NHL are numbered, and I think he has even less time on the Oilers. We’ll see what happens, but as of right now, he’s #11 on our Top-25 under 25 list.