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Numbers Game: Coyotes and Blue Jackets swing a deal

Scott Cullen
2/28/2011 1:50:07 PM
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Making a bid for a playoff spot, the Columbus Blue Jackets have added some firepower up front, sending a veteran, injury-prone defenceman to the desert to make it happen.

Numbers Game examines the deal sending Rostislav Klesla to Phoenix.

The Blue Jackets Get: RW Scottie Upshall and D Semi Lepisto.

Upshall, 27, is a winger with speed and a bit of a nose for the net, having scored 42 goals in 129 games since arriving in Phoenix in 2009 and he's done it while getting minimal ice time, tallying 16 goals this year while averaging just 13:27 per game. 

Upshall and Boston's Brad Marchand are the only two players in the league with at least 15 goals while playing fewer than 14 minutes per game and he does it at even strength, scoring 24 of his 27 points at even strength.  He'll add depth up front for the Blue Jackets, a little offence from the top nine forwards.

An unrestricted free agent at season's end, Upshall comes with a cap hit of $2.25-million.

A 26-year-old blueliner, Sami Lepisto has been a solid third-pair option for the Coyotes, contributing 22 points and a plus-21 rating in 117 games over the past couple of seasons in Phoenix.

Given the depth on Columbus' blueline, Lepisto should still be able to work into a regular role.  A restricted free agent, whose cap hit is $800,000, Lepisto can provide fairly economical and steady play.

Four points out of eighth, Columbus is still in the playoff hunt in the Western Conference, so adding additional firepower up front should help and since they've been making their recent charge with Klesla out of the lineup anyway, they're a little ahead of the game with Lepisto providing depth along the blueline.

The Coyotes Get: D Rostislav Klesla and LW Dane Byers.

Klesla, 28, has been having a solid season in Columbus though, as has been the case in recent seasons, injuries continue to plague him.  Out since January 22 with a bruised knee, Klesla has 10 points and a career-best plus-10 rating in 45 games, playing 19:19 per game -- the first season since the lockout that he's played less than 20 minutes per game.

Signed for three more years, at $2.975-million, Klesla figures to play in a top-four role for the Coyotes for years to come; a solid defensive defenceman that can handle physical defensive matchups and anchor the penalty killing unit.

Provided he can stay healthy -- a reach considering he's played 46.1% of Blue Jackets games since the start of the 2008-2009 season -- Klesla seems like a natural fit for a team that plays a tight-checking defensive style.

Byers is a 25-year-old who has generally been an AHL player, getting into six career NHL games, but has some size and plays a no-nonsense grinding game, tallying 34 points with a plus-4 rating and racking up 120 penalty minutes in 64 games in the American Hockey League with Connecticut and Springfield this season.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@ctv.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

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