Columbus Blue Jackets Make Impressive Move at Trade Deadline

Patrick DrottarCorrespondent IFebruary 28, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 18:  Scottie Upshall #8 of the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL game against the Nashville Predators at Arena on January 18, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Predators defeated the Coyotes 5-2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

At 12:53PM this afternoon it was confirmed by TSN that the Columbus Blue Jackets had made their first move at the deadline. The Blue Jackets have traded their first draft pick in franchise history Rostislav Klesla, as well as Springfield Falcon Dane Byers, to the Phoenix Coyotoes for Scottie Upshall and defenseman Sami Lepistö.

Klesla is still sidelined from a knee injury, but hopes to return soon and could help the Coyotes on the power play with Ed Jovanovski injured.

Klesla never reached his full potential with the Jackets and Howson most likely would not have resigned when his contract expired at the end of the season.

Byers was acquired by the Blue Jackets last season from the New York Rangers and has spent the entire year in Springfield with the Falcons. Byers, 25, has registered eight goals and 13 assists in 36 games this season.

In my opinion, the Blue Jackets have come out as the winners in this deal with the acquisition of Scottie Upshall. I followed Upshall when Nashville dealt him to Philadelphia before the 2006 season. Upshall fit in well with the Broad Street Bullies because he brought a combination of toughness and offensive skill.

In the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Upshall, along with fellow Jacket RJ Umberger, helped take the Flyers all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Upshall played all 17 playoff games and registered three goals and four assists, as well as 44 penalty minutes.

Upshall was later traded to the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2008-2009 season and registered eight goals and five assists in only 19 games. He has played well so far this season, with 18 goals and 14 assists, along with 32 penalty minutes.

Upshall's toughness and postseason experience will be a huge help to the Jackets as they enter the last full month of the season. He will be relied on during the remaining four games on Columbus' West Coast road trip, possibly on the second line and penalty kill.

Even though the Jackets dealt away one of their defenseman, they got another d-man in Sami Lepistö. The 26 year old from Finland was drafted 66th overall by the Washington Capitals in the 2004 NHL Draft.

Lepistö is a good puck moving defenseman and logs a lot of ice time. In 66 games with the Coyotes, Lepistö registered one goal and 10 assists. He will help give depth to the Jackets defense who has recently been bitten by the injury bug.

In yesterday's game against the Predators, defenseman Anton Strålman suffered a left leg injury early on in the first period. Lepistö will most likely fill Strålman's position while recently claimed Craig Rivet gets a few practices in and becomes acclimated with coach Scott Arniel's system.

Jan Hejda was also injured yesterday as a puck hit him in the face. However, after missing two shifts, Hejda later returned.

As the Trade Deadline passed 3:00 PM, I was wondering where all of the talks of John-Michael Liles to Columbus had gone. According to TSN, Liles was being heavily pursued, but in the end a deal could not be reached.

We will see if this trade will be enough for the Jackets to reach the playoffs