The Columbus Blue Jackets have finally broken entirely with their past by trading away the last of their originals, Rostislav Klesla.
The 28-year-old defenseman was the very first draft choice for the expansion draft choice, but along with the rest of the franchise, he spent the next 10 seasons getting almost nowhere. Klesla did become a relatively reliable defenseman when he was healthy, which wasn’t that often over the last few seasons, but not what Columbus expected from such a high draft pick.
In Phoenix though, he’ll be an upgrade to Sami Lepisto, who went back to Columbus along with Scottie Upshall for Klesla and minor leaguer Dane Byers in the deal. And Klesla will help help fill a void created by the injury to Ed Jovanovski.
The deal exchanged $3 million worth of salaries between the teams. For Columbus the key is the feisty Upshall, a former first round pick by Nashville, who can provide energy and a scoring touch. Their blue line group can handle the tradeoff from Klesla to Lepisto, and the Jackets are better up front now with Upshall.
He could be a good fit on line with Rick Nash on a team that has been charging toward a playoff spot of late.