Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:The list of Garth Snow’s waiver wire pick ups from the last few years is long and it does include some big hits. Michael Grabner, Thomas Hickey and Brian Strait are probably the best finds while there have been some duds and some so-so players (Joe Finley, Rob Schremp and Keith Aucoin to name a few). But due to the frequency of pickups the Islanders make off waivers, it’s no surprise that when an interesting name comes along it gets talked about quite a bit.
Klesla played 15 games for the Coyotes this year and recorded 3 points and a -1 rating. He suffered a concussion in the pre-season that caused him to miss three regular season games and had injury trouble last year as well (last year it was 10 games missed due to an “upper body injury,” another possible concussion). According to Coyotes blog On the Ice, Klesla didn’t appear nearly as physical this year as in the past. Read into that however you like, but that’s always been a big part of the 6-3, 220lb defender’s game.
So, do the Islanders pick him up?
For my money, Klesla does not fit the bill of the kind of player the Islanders usually grab off waivers. Klesla is due a total of $2.975 million this year, and I don’t see the Islanders picking up that tab, even though it won’t be the full amount. Not only that, he’s 31 and while not ancient by any means, doesn’t hold the same upside that the Islanders usually go for. Think about Schremp, Hickey and Grabner; they all were discarded first-round picks in their mid-20s. Klesla is over 30 and coming off a series of injuries. That’s a starkly different picture.
Not only, that Klesla is a serious injury risk only playing in 134 or 56% of his team’s games over the past four seasons. His advanced stats also do not look good. At all. Even when compared to two of the Islanders lesser defenders, Radek Martinek and Matt Carkner. Comparing each of their last three seasons, Klesla has been the worst defender in two of the three worst seasons in that sample (h/t Garik).
He’s expensive, injury prone, not playing as physically as he should and the stats don’t help his case. I know the defensive situation right now is bad, but I’ll pass. I don’t see Klesla as an improvement, despite the low risk proposition.