Should the Edmonton Oilers claim Rostislav Klesla?

Jonathan Willis
November 26 2013 05:15PM

As has been widely reported, the Phoenix Coyotes waived veteran defenceman Rostislav Klesla on Tuesday morning. Should the Oilers put in a claim for his services?

A Brief History Of Rusty Klesla

Klesla was the first pick in the history of the Columbus Blue Jackets, going fourth overall in the 2000 Draft. The Blue Jackets selected one spot behind the Minnesota Wild, which meant that instead of Marian Gaborik they got a big defensive defenceman. It could have been worse; if Mike Milbury hadn’t been in full-on Don Quixote mode and made the crazy Rick DiPietro selection with the first overall pick Klesla might not even have been available.

Klesla never developed much offence (his career high in points is 22, set in 2006-07) but did evolve into a big, capable defensive defenceman; something like a Blue Jackets version of Ladislav Smid. When he was traded to Phoenix in 2011 he was playing second-pairing minutes at even-strength and top-unit minutes on the penalty kill.

Of late, though, Klesla has slid down a deep Coyotes depth chart. He’s playing third-pair minutes at even-strength and he isn’t needed on the penalty kill. There’s no real statistical indication that his skills have seriously eroded, but Phoenix has lots of other options.

Should The Oilers Claim Him?

The equation seems simple. The Oilers have a weak blue line, and Klesla’s a decent NHL defenceman. Despite this, the answer to the question is ‘no.’

Klesla is in the final year of a deal that pays him a hair under $3.0 million per season. Like Anton Belov and Andrew Ference and Nick Schultz he’s a left-shooting defender, and like the latter two he’s overpaid relative to his contributions and probably best suited to the third pair of a good team. There’s no sense burning up cap space (the Oilers seem awfully concerned with entry-level bonuses) on a guy who duplicates skills already on the roster.

If Klesla were cheaper, I have little doubt he would be claimed. For that matter, the Coyotes likely wouldn’t have waived him; he’d have been tradable and the club might have been more comfortable keeping him. But he isn’t cheaper, cap space is an incredibly valuable commodity, and he’s the kind of player Edmonton already has.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 ubermiguel
November 26 2013, 05:34PM
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We had a version of Ladislav Smid already. His name was Ladislav Smid. If management didn't think the real Ladislav Smid was worth keeping why would they grab an older version of him?

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#2 pelhem grenville
November 26 2013, 05:19PM
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...veteran Dman?

...nah!

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#3 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
November 26 2013, 05:19PM
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I'm gonna answer a question with a question.

Does Dolly Parton sleep on her back?

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#4 Walter Sobchak
November 26 2013, 07:05PM
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I've never agreed with anything Healy has ever said on HNC except when he said “If you need a 5 or 6th defensemen call the Oilers"

Pass on another 5 - 6 defensemen.

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#5 gr8one
November 26 2013, 06:10PM
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So, since a player of this ilk is now available for nothing, and at 31 it's not like he's OLD old, does that not make MacT acquiring a pretty decent prospect goalie and another decent C prospect seem like a pretty good deal?

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#6 Bubslub
November 26 2013, 05:46PM
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Not sure why now we would want actual NHL players on our roster that would defeat what we have been trying to do for the better part of 12 years in fielding the worst AHL team possible..No?

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#7 vetinari
November 26 2013, 07:25PM
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Hard call... he's got almost 650 games of NHL experience and the incumbents are not doing that well... it's basically replacing Smid with a Smid-like player who has a slightly smaller contract and who becomes a UFA at the end of this year.

Unless there is another potential deal in the pipeline and you need to keep the space open on the 50 contract list, I think that I would claim him, and try to move one or two of the other defencemen as soon as possible.

The worst that happens is you use up the last contract opening and he walks at the end of the season. The best case scenario is that he actually functions as a "shut down" defender and can provide veteran leadership on the blueline.

Frankly, we need some real NHL veterans on the roster and with almost 650 games of NHL regular season experience, he fits the bill-- I'm tired of a roster of AHL players, NHL spare parts and a few marquee kids who can't play defence to save their lives. The kids aren't learning the ropes from very many veterans and it shows.

Why do you think that Paajarvi for Perron worked out in our favour? Perron has NHL experience and we need more roster players that also have NHL experience.

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#8 Fresh Mess
November 26 2013, 06:07PM
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Perfect example of why MacLooselip's "depth signing" of freakinGrebeshkov was a total waste of cap space and a contract.

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#9 Spydyr
November 26 2013, 06:21PM
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Young Oil wrote:

I see no harm in claiming him, giving him a shot to play well (he'd certainly be an upgrade on Nick Schultz or Potter), and if he plays well, flip him for a 2nd at the deadline (if Douglas Murray can get two 2nd round picks, anything is possible), and if he doesn't work out, just waive him again.

Defensive defencemen are a wanted commodity at the deadline, always. Klesla will probably be the best player on waivers this year.

If he was worth a second round pick don't you think the Coyotes would of traded him for that? Instead of putting him on waivers.

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#10 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
November 26 2013, 05:38PM
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We don't need Rusty

Enough of his skill set here

Please move along now

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#11 a lg dubl dubl
November 26 2013, 05:51PM
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Only if Klesla teaches Petry how to clear the front of the net.

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#12 Cynic
November 26 2013, 05:42PM
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I read somewhere that Kesla plays 5x5 on the tough Volhammers when the zone starts are in the House of the Rising Sun. So ... ah hell ... I have no idea ....

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#13 Fresh Mess
November 26 2013, 05:33PM
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Klesla available for free pretty much reduces Nick Schultz' trade value to less than zero. Until the deadline that is.

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#14 Young Oil
November 26 2013, 05:37PM
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I see no harm in claiming him, giving him a shot to play well (he'd certainly be an upgrade on Nick Schultz or Potter), and if he plays well, flip him for a 2nd at the deadline (if Douglas Murray can get two 2nd round picks, anything is possible), and if he doesn't work out, just waive him again.

Defensive defencemen are a wanted commodity at the deadline, always. Klesla will probably be the best player on waivers this year.

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#15 Lofty
November 26 2013, 06:04PM
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He's a UFA and the Oil are not making the playoffs. Only way this would make sense is if MacT could add him and then sell him at the deadline for something.

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#16 @Oilanderp
November 27 2013, 08:59AM
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1. Claim him. 2. Trade him and Omark for Shea Weber. 3. Bam! Stanley Cup™

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#17 Retsinnab5
November 26 2013, 05:19PM
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Claim him just for laughs and gigles

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#18 Andrew
November 26 2013, 05:45PM
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Sshhh! Don't wake up MacT. He's doing his Rip-Van-Winkle impression. Klesla makes too much sense but only for organizations who want to win. That is mot a part of the Oilers game plan.

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#19 Spydyr
November 26 2013, 06:29PM
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If anything they should trade a contract for him.If he clears.I believe they are at 49 contracts right now.

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#20 justDOit
November 26 2013, 07:54PM
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*(the Oilers seem awfully concerned with entry-level bonuses)*

They have six players getting perf bonuses this year, and three are up for a max of $2.8M. So that's a lot of cap space that MacT has to set aside, because I believe PBs aren't included in the cap forecast of your team, but you have to have room for them at season's end. http://capgeek.com/oilers/ does not include them by default.

By not including them in the cap through the season, it helps GMs manage their team by having more cap to work with, but at the end of the season, you have to have the room.

If you end up over due to bonuses paid, then that amount, plus penalty, comes out of next season's cap. Ouch.

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#21 jack
November 26 2013, 09:20PM
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who, oh yah, just what we need, another 5/6 defense man, dont we have like 20 of them already

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#22 Reagan
November 26 2013, 06:24PM
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Hell ya !

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#23 John Chambers
November 27 2013, 09:21AM
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Claim him and trade him at the deadline for a 3rd.

Free 3rd!

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#24 Dog Train
November 26 2013, 08:16PM
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The more important question is will the Oilers claim him? Since they traded a similar player like Smid only a few weeks ago, my guess would be they won't

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#25 Manfly
November 27 2013, 09:00AM
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the Oilers should just take any and every leftover d-man that comes along because they are all better than what the Oilers have, right?

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#26 TigerUnderGlass
November 27 2013, 02:16PM
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A somewhat steady defenseman on an expiring contract is deadline gold. No way PHX waives him if they don't need roster space.

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#27 john
November 27 2013, 03:57AM
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Klesla is Columbus 1st ever draft pick? Well maybe one day he come back and run the Blue Jackets like Oilers 1st ever draft pick Kevin Lowe did with the Oilers. Lowe is being run out of town by the fans there now. What have you done for us lately is the theme? Hopefully the team will turn around and win some more games this year. Cheers

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#28 Benhur
November 27 2013, 07:51AM
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I would trade him if he is a better option than Potter. Put Potter on waivers then.

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