clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Countdown To Coyotes Preseason: 16 Days

Getty Images

With 16 days left until preseason begins lets take a look at how the number 16 has played a role in Phoenix Coyotes history. We don't have to go back very far though, current Coyotes defenseman Rostislav Klesla wears the number 16. Klesla has been with the Yotes since the 2010-11 season when the Coyotes traded Scottie Upshall and Sami Lepisto to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Klesla and Dane Byers.

Klesla began his career playing junior hockey in the Czech republic before he maid the move to North America playing for the Sioux City Musketeers in 1998-99 in the USHL and the Brampton Battalion in the OHL in 1999-2000. He was drafted by the Columbus fourth overall, making him the first ever first round pick by the Blue Jackets.

The first round pick did see some ice on the professional level in the 2000-01 season, playing 8 games with the Blue Jackets and scoring 2 goals, before he was sent back to Brampton. The next season he playing on the NHL full-time and was impressive enough to be named on the "NHL All-Rookie Team" which is a team of one goalie, two defensemen, and three forwards consisting of players who are eligible to win the Calder Trophy.

Last year was Rusty's first full season with the Coyotes, which he played 65 games, scored 3 goals and had 13 points overall in the regular season. He also scored 2 goals and had 8 points overall in the playoffs, playing in 15 games.

For a team like Phoenix that requires so much from their defensemen, Klesla definitely stands out as an integral part of the team. He doesn't really generate the same points as players like Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Keith Yandle, but he is a sound defenseman who will block shots and do whatever else it takes to keep the other team from scoring.

His dedication can not be oversold either, in the last playoffs he took a stick in the eye playing against Chicago and a puck to the face playing against Nashville. In both of those games he came back with a visor to finish the game and help the Desert Dogs advance to the Western Conference Finals.