Should the Edmonton Oilers claim Rostislav Klesla?

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.

  • ubermiguel

    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?

  • Young Oil

    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.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    I read somewhere that Kesla plays 5×5 on the tough Volhammers when the zone starts are in the House of the Rising Sun.
    So … ah hell … I have no idea ….

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    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.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    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?

  • Lofty

    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.

  • gr8one

    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?

  • vetinari

    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.

  • justDOit

    *(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. 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.

  • justDOit

    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

  • justDOit

    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