Throughout the offseason, Rostislav Klesla's name emerged as a potential trade candidate because of the Phoenix Coyotes' embarrassment of riches on their blueline and in their system. After weeks of playing musical defenseman on the third pairing, Phoenix finally made a move, waiving the 31-year-old defenseman.
Playing in 15 of the team's 24 games, Klesla recorded a goal and three points while averaging around two hits and one block per game.
Klesla has been a key piece on the Coyotes' blueline since being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets (along with Dane Byers) in exchange for Scotty Upshall and Sami Lepisto in February 2011. However, he has been a healthy scratch recently as coach Dave Tippett has not been thrilled with Klesla's play and in turn decided to go younger on the blueline.
Klesla is in the final year of a four-year, $11.9 million contract he signed in Columbus (he's due to make $2.975 million this season).
There are three left handed defensemen in the Yotes' system that could see significant NHL time this season as a result. The first is David Schlemko, who has been up in the NHL, but scratched several times. He's the most likely to fill the role of third pairing LD in the short-term.
The other two are playing for Portland Pirates: Brandon Gormley and Chris Summers. Gormley can play a solid two-way game and is a player Coyotes fans are very eager to see. Gormley is yet to play in the NHL but has been long considered Phoenix's top defensive prospect in the minors.
Summers is the prototypical stay-at-home defenseman who won't contribute much in the offensive zone but is solid in his on end. He was sent down early in the season because of the logjam of healthy defenseman.
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