Few teams in the NHL boast the same level of depth on the blue line as the Phoenix Coyotes. While the top two pairings have been steady all season, several defenders have been rotated in and out of the third pairing as head coach Dave Tippett has looked for a solid tandem.
Since coming to the Coyotes in 2011, Klesla has been an integral part of the blue line group. Several players have passed him on the depth chart this season though, and his lack of steady play in his own zone forced Phoenix to place him on waivers. According to the team’s website, the 31-year-old veteran will head to the AHL if he clears.
Tippett spoke to the site today following the demotion and had this to say about the reasoning behind it:
We’re looking to try to find ways to improve our group, and I talked to Don (Maloney) after the game last night and we talked about different scenarios. One was just to see how we could change the mix a little bit, and that was the first step of it.
Given Tippett’s willingness to ice young players over the last few seasons, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see one or two defenders recalled from the AHL at this juncture. David Schlemko is likely to be the short-term plug with Klesla gone, but Brandon Gormley and Chris Summers will likely get a crack at cementing a spot in the NHL in the near future.