Forward Chris Brown was sent to the Pirates to clear a roster spot.
It’s unclear exactly what caused Phoenix’s change of heart. Klesla, a former first-round pick (fourth overall, 2000 NHL Entry Draft) has been plagued by injuries this season — missing four games to a lower-body injury and three to a concussion suffered on a hit during a preseason game by L.A.’s Jordan Nolan — and was supposed to use the demotion as a chance to play big minutes, according to head coach Dave Tippett.
“He goes down and can get his game going,” Tippett told the Arizona Republic. “He came into camp in pretty good shape and got hurt, missed some time, came back and starting playing, got hurt again and missed some time.
“Hopefully this is an opportunity for him to go down and play a lot of minutes and see if he can get his game back in order and if that’s the case, he can be a helpful player on our team. But we just need him to be playing at a higher level.”
As mentioned, Klesla didn’t play a single second for Portland, making this situation all the more odd. There is some speculation a trade might be in the works (see here and here), but any team wanting to acquire Klesla could’ve done so by claiming him off waivers.
Klesla is in the final year of a four-year, $11.9 million deal originally signed with Columbus (he was acquired via trade in 2011.) The Czech rearguard has appeared in 15 games for the Coyotes this season, scoring three points while averaging 15:42 TOI per game.
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It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.