Columbus, OH –
By Rick Gethin
The Ninja, Scott Howson, was able to add two roster players that should show an immediate dividend without giving away any draft picks for the original Blue Jacket.
With the Phoenix Coyotes seeking a shut-down defenseman that will eat up minutes, they targeted Columbus blueliner Rostislav Klesla. In exchange, they sent forward Scottie Upshall and defenseman Sami Lepisto to the Blue Jackets. Columbus also included minor league Dane Byers in the deal with Klesla.
Whether on the face of it, or looking deeper, Howson won this deal hands down. The upside for Columbus is a scoring forward with the work ethic of RJ Umberger and the grit of a Jared Boll/Derek Dorsett. Sami Lepisto is described by head coach Scott Arniel as a “Kris Russell-type” player, only bigger. Phoenix gets an oft-injured stay-at-home defenseman in Klesla, which is what the were looking for. The stay-at-home, not the oft-injured.
Because I know that you just love to see the stats, here’s what you have with both Upshall and Lepisto.
Scottie Upshall is 16-11-27, +5 in 61 games this season with the ‘Yotes. Last season, although injured and playing only 49 games, he was 18-14-32, +5. Like I said, an RJ Umberger-type of guy. Upshall was drafted 6th overall in the 2002 draft, the same year that Rick Nash wa drafted 1st overall. He’s 27 and a UFA, and I’ll wager that Howson signs him to an extension.
Sami Lepisto is 4-7-11, +11 in 51 games this season with Phoenix. Last season, in 66 games, he was 1-10-11, +14. He’s 26 years old and has the ability and skill to make Anton Stralman irrelevant come the end of the season. He’s an RFA, so look for him to leave it all on the ice in the hopes of getting an extension.
The permutations are seemingly endless, but for now, Columbus fans should be happy with these two acquisitions. Former NHL-er Jeremy Roenick said this about Scottie Upshall, “Teams win cups with players like Upshall”. That should tell you something.
I’ll have more on this trade later. But for now, enjoy.