Phoenix Acquires Last Original Jacket
The Phoenix Coyotes added some help to their blueline on Monday, shipping forward Scottie Upshall and defenseman Sami Lepisto to Columbus in exchange for Rostislav Klesla.
Upshall had 27 points in 61 games this season, 16 of them goals. He was tied for first in that category along with Radim Vrbata and Taylor Pyatt. Lepisto, for his part, had racked up 11 points in 51 games and was in and out of the lineup before the Coyotes' defense corps became rattled by injuries, such as Ed Jovanovski's broken orbital bone that required surgery ten days ago. Without him, the Coyotes had to fill a need for a defensive defenseman with enough experience to bring them into the playoffs. It remains unclear if Jovanovski will return this regular season. It also remains to be seen if Klesla, who has been prone to injury himself these past few seasons and is currently close to returning from a bruised knee, can get the better of the injury bug, short-term as well as long-term (his current contract extends through to the end of the 2013-14 season).
The Coyotes also acquired minor leaguer Dane Byers in the deal, who had 12 goals, 22 assists in 64 games with Hartford/Connecticut and Springfield of the AHL up until this point. The twenty five year old former second-rounder of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft also piled up 120 penalty minutes. His only NHL experience is with the New York Rangers (6 games).
One of the things this deal means is there are no original members of the Ohio franchise left, as Klesla was the last active part of the Blue Jackets' 2000-01 roster still with the team before today. Meanwhile, the 6'3", 220 pound blueliner has ten points (3-7) in 45 games thus far after having played 26 and 34 games respectively in the last two seasons.