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Coyotes add defensemen Lepisto, Heshka

lepisto2_200.jpgThe Phoenix Coyotes, parent club of the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, have acquired defenseman Sami Lepisto from the Washington Capitals in exchange for a fifth-round draft choice in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, and defenseman Shaun Heshka from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for their seventh-round choice (187th overall) in the 2009 Entry Draft.

Lepisto, 24, recorded four assists in seven games with the Capitals last season. He also appeared in 70 games with Hershey of the American Hockey League (AHL) where he registered four goals and 38 assists for 42 points to lead all Hershey defensemen in scoring.

Lepisto also ranked tied for thrid on the team with a plus-24 rating and fourth on the team with 38 assists. His 42 points ranked tied for 11th among all AHL defensemen.

In 2007-08, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Lepisto played in seven games with Washington while collecting his first NHL point (assist) vs. Atlanta on Mar. 14, 2008. He also appeared in 55 games for Hershey, registering 4-41-45 to lead the team in assists and rank ninth in scoring among AHL defensemen. His plus-29 rating led Hershey and ranked third in the AHL.

Prior to coming to North America for the 2007-08 season, Lepisto played four seasons of professional hockey in Finland for Jokerit. A native of Espoo, Finland, Lepisto played in seven games for Finland at the 2008 World Championship and won a bronze medal with Team Finland at the 2004 World Junior Championship.

Lepisto was originally selected by Washington in the third round (66th overall) of the 2004 Entry Draft.

heshka_200.jpgHeshka, 23, registered 3-23-26 with 25 PIM and a plus-17 rating in 77 games with Manitoba of the AHL last season. He ranked second on the team in points among defenseman (26) and tied for third on the team in plus/minus (+17).

Heshka also collected five assists in 22 playoff games last season, helping Manitoba advance to the Calder Cup Finals.

The 6-foot-1, 198-pound Heshka has appeared in 211 career AHL games over three seasons with Manitoba, collecting 14-48-62 with 98 PIM and a plus-36 rating.

Prior to his professional career, the native of Melville, Sask., spent three seasons (2003-06) with Everett of the Western Hockey League (WHL) where he recorded 25-82-107 and 137 PIM in 204 games, along with 5-12-17 in 46 career playoff games.

Heshka originally signed with Vancouver as a free agent on July 24, 2006.