Rusty Klesla

Klesla Dealt to PHX for Upshall, Lepisto

Posted by Canadan82 on February 28, 2011
Trade News / No Comments

The deal finally struck.  After awaking this morning after horribly interrupted sleep (thank you dog + thunderstorm/windstorm) I found myself overly anxious and a bit irritable that trades were not falling by 10am.  In fact, by twelve, I was eagerly hunting for additional twitter followers for some sort of unlikely inside scoop on ANYTHING trade relevant.

…And then it happened.  Scott Howson, very much in Scott Howson form, made a deal out of left field, trading players who arguably were not talked about in any form previous to today, from a team claiming that they would not be making additional deals moving into the deadline.

This deal marks the end of an era for the Blue Jackets, and while I have been openly elated about the trade, I do think it’s a good time to acknowledge Rusty for what he has done for the franchise.  At the start of every year, I helplessly hoped that he would find success without finding the IR, and again, my hopes were brutally shattered.

Sami Lepisto will be a 26 year old RFA this summer.  He is not the powerplay QB this team arguably needs, but he has been fairly solid for the Coyotes.  He has 4 goals and 7 assists in 51 games and is a +7 while averaging over 16 minutes a game.  While he won’t make incredible waves in the defensive core, he will most definitely force the competitive nature in the six active players.

Scottie Upshall is a 27 year old upcoming UFA this summer.  He is a hard working 2nd/3rd liner with 16 goals and 11 assists in 61 games with Phoenix this year. He is averaging just over 13 minutes a game, leading me to believe that he could be a flexible 2nd/3rd liner for Columbus depending on injuries.

At this point I am going to call this trade a huge win for Columbus.  Klesla was a great potential talent, but truly struggled to stay healthy.  Lepisto is an RFA who will bring some depth to the Columbus blueline, and Upshall will bring speed and grit that seems to be lacking in the offensive depth of the Jackets roster.

Go Scott Howson.  Some people may think he is inept, but I think he continues to make the deals necessary to bring this team into the playoffs for a long time.

Carry the Flag!

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Deadline Time – Ranking Who Should Go

Posted by Canadan82 on February 23, 2011
Roster Talk / No Comments

It has been a while since I formally took some time to voice my opinion via blog specific, rather than just 140 twitter characters, but I thought it might be refreshing to put onto paper who I’d most like to see go, if Howson is looking to deal towards the deadline.  Important things to note: This does NOT mean I want them to be sellers, specifically.  I think the Blue Jackets can move about three of these players without even having to make a move to bring someone in, and while I want to see some of these guys gone, I expect that a move would be made to replace some of them before the deadline.

At short last, here we go:

1 – Kristian Huselius; Make no secret, I am 100% a Juice pessimist.  I have been actively negative about him from around the halfway mark of his first season as a Blue Jacket to present, originally accepting his contract and playing style as ‘necessary’ for a team building a league-wide rep for quality places to play hockey.  At this point, however, his lazy, unsuccessful on ice effort has me convinced that he is FINALLY taking up a roster spot in the top six that could be better utilized by another player.  I would be completely satisfied if Howson could bring in a young forward or draft pick for the aging winger, who strongly relies on passes from his linemates to generate goals and rarely goes out of his way to make the play that his talent would permit him to with a sliver of effort.

2 – Jan Hejda; One piece of the shutdown pairing that lead Columbus to the playoffs two years ago, Hejda is a shadow of his former self, and is constantly making decisions that would make rookie defensemen shake their head with confusion.  Terrible pinches, and blown assignments have burned the CBJ goaltenders thanks to Hejda, and offensively, horrible mistakes have caused injury to teammates because of point shots that should have been taken low, but instead were fired above waist level (see: Brassard injury).  Again, a young foward or draft pick would more than suffice, as Clitsome has shown himself to be more than capable.

3 – Rusty Klesla; It would be interesting to see who would win in a career long bandaid competition, Rusty or Pazzy.  While his potential has always been worth discussing, his inability to stay healthy has plagued the Blue Jacket defensive core for a handful of years.  With the excellent collection of potential NHLers waiting in the prospect wing of the CBJ franchise, I would strongly insist that Howson take advantage of a team looking for potential defensive depth with a handful of picks in the upcoming draft.

4 – Anton Stralman; aka Mr. “WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT?!”  Nothing more telling than last night, when he carried the puck behind his net while the Jackets clung to a small lead, only to turn it over to two Nashville players in the slot because he opted to cut to the middle.  Stralman is simply one of those players who you can’t trust with the puck, and while his play has been slightly better in the recent weeks, it is not worth the defensive gaffs and turnovers to keep him in the lineup.  Allow the Moore experiment continue by dealing him for a late round pick.

5 – Ethan Moreau; Brought to the Blue Jackets this year to provide quality depth with leadership capabilities, Moreau has been another who spends more time nursing injuries than he does leading the team from the third or fourth line.  In a situation where the Jackets can bring in a player like Sestito to ruffle the oppositions feathers, Moreau would not be a terrible loss assuming the return was a decent draft pick or a young forward prospect.

6 – Chris Clark; Another situation where limited leadership and even more limited on ice production has plagued the Blue Jackets, Clark could easily be moved to a team looking for forward depth for a prospect or pick.  Certainly his leadership potential would be missed in Columbus, but his spot on the roster could easily be replaced by a younger, harder working player considering how little the team seemed to have utilized his leadership ability.

7 – Andrew Murray; A player who has always frustrated me.  He is what I like to consider a bubble player with no real ability to be more than that.   Consistently being scratched, and when he is in the lineup, rarely takes a chance with the puck.  While I can appreciate the value in a player who believe in sound hockey, the few times he does take a chance are usually when his inabilities as a player are magnified.  Bring in a late pick for him and allow the depth to be replaced this year by a guy like Wilson.

8 – Mike Commodore;  Admittedly low on the list, but mostly because I don’t personally have any optimism that he’ll be going anywhere, any time soon.  From the minute his deal with the Blue Jackets was announced, I was a naysayer.  I ate crow during the Blue Jackets playoff run, admitting that he and Hejda were without question our top defensive pairing, but from that point, could not have been any more painfully correct about how irrelevant, lazy, and incapable he is in the ice.  If the Jackets could convince a team to take on his salary, even for a broom, bag of pucks, or free chili card, I would be impressed.

Eight players.  Obviously I am not sitting here demanding they trade all of them, but I am trying to make a case as to why the Blue Jackets need to shuffle their depth a bit.  Guys like Clitsome and Calvert have made it very clear that prospects are not that far out in Columbus, and that positive impact should open the door for Howson to make the necessary moves to recycle the irrelevance and replace it with futures or playoff hungry talent.

I maintain that a lack of killer instinct from a number of players (many of them mentioned above) are causing the Blue Jackets the ability to play a sixty minute game.  When you watch a guy like Calvert come in, infiltrate the bottom end of the lineup, and make waves so loud that powerplay time and top six minutes are awarded, it’s a fairly clear indication that there is room for improvement in our depth.

Carry the Flag!

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Klesla Injured.. Line Changes Upcoming

Posted by Canadan82 on December 01, 2009
Player Injuries / No Comments

Rusty Klesla has sustained a substantial injury to his groin, which will take him out of the lineup for upwards of four to six weeks. Coming on multiple injury proned seasons, this is the last thing the fans and Rusty wanted to deal with. Making matters worse, he has been far and away one of Columbus’ best defenders during this year.

The Jackets have recalled Roy from Syracuse, and the line jugglging will likely continue into Thursday. My personal preference for pairings are the following;

Hejda – Commodore
Tyutin – Russell
Stralman – Methot/Roy

That being said, one can not ignore that Russell being on the same line as Commodore brought the best out of Mike last night, playing in one of his better games of the season and producing a +4 rating. This could play dividends with the coach, leaving him and option such as;

Hejda – Tyutin
Russell – Commodore
Stralman – Methot/Roy

While this does not provide the Jackets with a clear shutdown pairing, it balances the offensive defensemen with the defensive first defensemen, and maintains the Commodore/Russell line in tact. In any case, if the pairings deviate from what I have listed, I will be shocked if we see any sort of success defensively.

Carry the Flag!

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2009/2010 Columbus Defense

Posted by Canadan82 on September 14, 2009
Roster Talk / No Comments

Columbus defensively may be the biggest question this year. With a decent showing last year, and young players like Methot and Russell showing their capacity to function at the NHL level, Columbus certainly has the cornerstone of what could be a very strong defensive core.

Obviously the biggest off-season effort was put into the Rick Nash signing, but I do believe finding a puck moving defensemen was second on their list all the way. While Rusty Klesla has shown signs of being a great player, his inability to stay healthy has cost the Blue Jackets much needed depth on the blueline. If they hope to acquire a quality defender, it is no doubt they will try and package Rusty with a forward (hopefully one of Chimera or Modin). Here are my preferred lines heading into the pre-season;

1 – Commodore – Hejda
2 – Russell – Tyutin
3 – Methot – Klesla

While I do think these combinations show a great deal of depth in their current state, I think it will be necessary for a couple of these guys to step it up and really force their play into the first pairing. I do not think any one of these players deserve the top spot more than another, although I do think their style of play may become a factor.

Commodore and Hejda became the ‘go-to’ pairing for Hitchcock last year. Both were able to prove their critics (including me) wrong and play a strong defensive game. They will have to up their game if they want to avoid losing their spot to one of the young guys still working on developing into their career style and ability.

Russell and Tyutin are a pairing we have seen before. Russell has a tremendous ability to carry the puck into the offensive zone, and draw pinching forward away from Tyutin. This will allow hopefully for a lot of open point shots from Fedor. While I think both can achieve top line status, I think the most opportunity lies with Russell and the level he can achieve this year.

Finally, we consider Methot and Klesla. Both seem to continuously have something to prove to the coaching staff. There will be no free rife for Methot, although with the release of Backman, it will give him the opportunity to truly own an NHL position. In Klesla’s case, everything rides on his summer development and how he can avoid injuries this year.

As I had previously mentioned, a lot of room for modification to the defensive lines may really force these six palyers to amp up their game. One thing I will personally anticipate is that these lines will look completely different after the first month of the season.

Carry the Flag!

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Let’s Play FA in Columbus..

Posted by Canadan82 on June 24, 2009
Roster Talk / 1 Comment

Taking a look at this years TSN favourites for the upcoming free agency period made me really consider what Columbus should focus one outside of their obvious priority of re-signing Captain Rick Nash.

Based on TSN, their forward all free agent team includes;

Forwards – Marian Hossa, Martin Havlat, Marian Gaborik, Mike Cammalleri, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Saku Koivu, Alex Kovalev, Alex Tanguay, Brian Gionta, Mike Knuble, Nik Antropov

Defense – Jay Bouwmeester, Scott Neidermayer, Rob Blake, Mattias Ohlund, Johnny Oduya, Mike Komisarek, Sergei Zubov

Goalies – Khabibulin, Roloson, Biron

Now, I am fairly confident that while the Jackets have three solid centers in Vermette, Brassard, and Umberger, it might be a good idea to keep RJ on the wing with Vermette, and bring in another strong centerman.. That being said, the only sniper on that list is Koivu, which will likely mean many teams will be in the hunt to acquire his services. More importantly now, with the strength clearly being on the wing, the Jackets will need to consider their other options.

First and foremost, Columbus needs right handed players. Filling that void would be Gionta or Knuble. Personally, I would prefer having Knuble because of his consistency, which could add some serious depth to the roster. While the Jackets are in need of quality scorers, filling the gaps in the middle of the roster is an issue that has taken quite a few years to resolve.

I do not personally think that taking a risk on a player like Havlat is the best idea, but I would not mind enjoying the benefits of a healthy year for him. He is a prolific scorer that can wear his emotions on his sleeve, and can really bring a team together with his abilities on the ice. He would not be brought in for leadership, but he can certainly use his talent to lead by example. If he is willing to strike a reasonable deal, I would always welcome his (healthy) name on the roster.

Defensively, Columbus could use a healthy number one workhorse, which Klesla struggled heavily with over the last year. Certainly Bouwmeester could fill that void for the Jackets, but his hype could throw a huge shadow on his name considering the number he will likely command. I would prefer the Jackets avoided the older players unless they accept a short and reasonable contract number. Obviously some of the names on that list could really provide leadership, and that is something that was also questioned last year.

Obviously Steve Mason can not play another 78 game season (pro-rated from last year of course) but the Jackets should not be looking for high quality goaltending during free agency. Expect a mediocre goalie signed to a one or two year deal, allowing LaCosta to get one more year in the minors before coming up to support Mase.

I would love to hear what your thoughts are on this.. We are edging closer to some of the more exciting moments of the off-season, and I have not heard from any of you lately!

Carry the Flag!

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Welcome Back Klesla

Posted by Canadan82 on March 11, 2009
Roster Talk / 4 Comments

A familiar face returned to the Jackets lineup recently. Marred by injury this season, Rusty Klesla is finally off IR and making a difference on the ice. I personally was on the train that pegged Klesla as good deadline trade bait, but it is time for me to digress and appreciate his talent.

While the Columbus defensive corps are full of promise and potential, there is always room for a player like Klesla, who has the size advantage, and a lot of the time a hockey sense advantage over many of the other d-men on our depth chart. With Tollefson on IR with an injury, the need for physicality will be filled perfectly by either Mark Methot or Rusty Klesla, which leads me to wonder.. Who are the odd ones out?

I would be fairly comfortable in assuming Commodore and Hejda will be safe on the roster for the remainder of the season. Both are playing strong defensive games, and have been known to step it up against the opposition’s best lines. Tyutin and Russell are staples on the powerplay, and seem to have earned their spot on Hitchcock’s depth chart.

That leaves a recovering Klesla, injured Tollefson, Christian Backman, Aaron Rome, and Mark Methot in limbo. Based on any kind of consistency, Klesla will outplay every one of them, (unless something unexplainable happened to his abilities) and OKT will be recovering, which would leave the remaining four players competing for a single roster spot. Now, the fact that Hitch has had the common sense to sit Backman through multiple games gives me some confidence. I know his contract is robust for what he can (and clearly can not) do on the ice, which leads me to believe that when push comes to shove, the position will not go to him.

The concern I have is whether or not Hitchcock will be willing to sit Aaron Rome. He would have to clear waivers to return to Syracuse, and from what I have heard and read, the organization really likes what he can do, meaning that Methot will flat out have to be brilliant to obtain a position that in reality should be his.

What are your thoughts Jackets fans? Will Rome take the spot by default, or will Mehtot get a fair crack at the roster down the stretch?

Carry the Flag!

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Deadline Day…

Posted by Canadan82 on March 03, 2009
Roster Talk / No Comments

We all know the Jackets are not going to be sellers this year, and Howson has made it very clear that he will not lose roster players, or young players at the deadline..  Now, do not expect many teams to jump on the few options he has left on the table, but expect there to be plenty of talk regarding Leclaire and possibly Klesla.

Personally, I think Dan LaCosta can become our secondary goaltender, and a guy like Pazzy is far too talented to be the secondary goaltender on an NHL team.  Based on that, I think using Leclaire as trade bait either this week or during the off-season would be of great value to them.  They can easily cite his poor ankle as the cause of his dip in play, and suggest that his surgery repaired any error in said play.
Second on the block has to be Klesla.  His inconsistency in health this year is extremely exhausting for fans.  While he is a strong player when on the ice, he does not have chemistry on this roster, and could easily bring back a big name, most notably, Tim Connolly out of Buffalo.  That would make the Jackets a far more complete team considering how great Nash and Connolly could play together, and he is a position the Jackets have sorely sought after throughout the last couple years.
There are other options for the Jackets, most notably Vermette and Antropov, but I think the best option is Connolly.  If not Connolly, I really think the only other positive option is Vermette, who could give a much needed boost in the center position and their special teams.  Optimistically, Vermette or Connolly would only cost them one of either Leclaire or Klesla, which means they could still have off-season ‘sellables’.
Considering the last couple games, it is rather clear that while chemistry is still fairly good within the team, but having this kind of shakeup, even if we need to sweeten the deal with a Novotny or Murray would be extremely beneficial for a playoff push.  We will see extremely soon whether Howson is seriously pursuing a trade, and when it happens, I will make sure you all know.
Carry the Flag!

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