Klesla, 24, has appeared in 253 games with the Blue Jackets and has registered 20 goals and 46 assists for 66 points with 253 penalty minutes during his four-plus NHL seasons. In 2005-06, he has set career highs for goals and points with 6-13-19 to go along with 75 penalty minutes in 51 games. He has also averaged a career-high 21:26 of ice time per game.
"Rusty has really emerged this season and become a very solid National Hockey League defenseman," said MacLean. "We have very high expectations for our team moving forward and are thrilled that Rusty is going to continue to be an integral part of our franchise. We think he is one of the top, young defensemen in the league."
Klesla played his first full NHL season in 2001-02 and registered 8-8-16 and 74 penalty minutes in 75 games with the Blue Jackets, earning NHL All-Rookie Team honors. He was also selected to play in the Topps/NHL YoungStars Game during All-Star Weekend, but missed the game due to injury. Following the season, he played for the Czech Republic at the 2002 World Championships in Sweden. In 2002-03, he notched 2-14-16 and 71 penalty minutes in 72 games, setting a career high for assists and earning his second selection to participate in the Topps/NHL YoungStars Game.
"The Blue Jackets gave me the chance to play in Columbus six years ago and I want to thank Mr. (Blue Jackets Majority Owner John H.) McConnell and Doug MacLean for allowing me to continue to be a part of this organization," said Klesla. "We have great fans here and I'm very excited about our team. I know that great things are going to happen here very soon."
A native of Novy Jicin, Czech Republic, Klesla was the top-rated defenseman by Central Scouting when Columbus made him the fourth overall pick at the 2000 Entry Draft. He made his NHL debut in 2000-01, scoring two goals in eight games before returning to the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League. He collected 18-36-54 and 59 penalty minutes in 45 games with Brampton and was named the top NHL prospect by The Hockey News for 2000-01. He also helped the Czech Republic win the gold medal at the World Junior Championships in 2001 and was named the tournament's Top Defenseman. In 1999-00, he had 16-29-45 and 174 penalty minutes and was named to the OHL's and Canadian Hockey League's All-Rookie Teams.
The Blue Jackets host the Dallas Stars at Nationwide Arena tonight in the 2005-06 season finale. Game time is set for 7 p.m. (ET). The game will be televised live on FSN Ohio with the Ice Breaker pre-game show starting at 6:30 p.m. The game will also be carried live on the Blue Jackets Radio Network and flagship stations WBNS-AM (1460 the Fan) and WWCD-FM (CD101).