Rangers Make Smart Move Getting Wolski
As you are all aware by now, the Rangers took a step toward replacing the offensive void (HAHAHAHA, couldn't resist being sarcastic there) opened up when it was announced LW Alex Frolov would miss the balance of the season due to a knee injury. Glen Sather and his old friend and former assistant, Don Maloney, hooked up on a deal which will bring LW/C Wojtek Wolski to NY. In return, the Coyotes add Defenseman Michal Rozsival.
Initial reaction from Rangers fans was disbelief. As in how could Sather have fleeced Maloney; a guy who up until now had proven himself a smart and capable manager. Rozsival, despite playing big minutes for the Rangers, was a frequent target of Blue Shirt faithful who were unhappy with the veteran Defenseman's play relative to his salary cap hit.
Rozsival was probably unfairly criticized to a degree but when you are a Rangers fan and you've seen how much money Slats has committed to underachieving players, it isn't surprising some of that wrath was directed toward Rozsi. After signing as a FA before the '05 - '06 season, Rozsival posted 4 straight seasons of 30 or more points. But his point totals have decreased each year since his career high 40 in 2006 - 2007.
His defensive play has never been great. He has always been prone to defensive gaffes and turnovers. We would have been more than happy to have given him away for nothing just to wipe the $5 million cap hit off the 2011 - 2012 salary cap. Instead Sather was able to add a tremendously skilled 24 year-old forward who recorded 65 points in 80 games last year.
It does leave our defense corps a little "short in the tooth," so to speak. Steve Eminger is the new resident grey-beard at 27. Dan Girardi and Matt Gilroy are each 26. Marc Staal and Mike Sauer are each 23. Rookie Ryan McDonagh is 21 while 2nd year player Michael Del Zotto is just 20. I wouldn't be surprised if the Rangers made a move at or before the deadline to add some experience back there.
After the initial joy news of the deal brought me wore off I decided to read comments and reactions from non-Ranger fans to get their perspective. It seems Wolski has quite the reputation as an inconsistent player who lacks desire. Immediately following his trade to Phoenix at last year's deadline, Wolski was a point-per-game producer for the Coyotes. This season he has struggled to the tune of 16 points in 36 games and has been a healthy scratch a number of times.
Well, that was a sobering reminder that 24 year-olds with tremendous skill don't often come available and when they do there are usually strings attached. I'll admit I haven't seen much of Wolski live but what I'm hearing from people who have it seems as if he is similar to former Ranger Nik Zherdev. That's not cool.
With my enthusiasm somewhat tempered, I decided to dig a little to see if I could reach beyond what may only be hyperbole and find out what kind of player Wolski might be in NYC. People have pointed to Wolski's perceived inconsistencies. So what do the numbers say?
Wolski had 3 separate 6 game scoreless streaks during the 2009 - 2010 season. I did a little checking and found Chicago's Marian Hossa had a 7 game pointless streak and everyone's favorite little whiner, Sid Crosby, had a 5 game scoreless run. Ok, that doesn't prove much other than Wolski did have bouts were he disappeared off the score sheet.
Wolski had 15 multi point games last season. He was pointless in 34 contests. That means he scored 65 points in 46 games. Alright, it appears inconsistency is one of his flaws.
As far as lacking desire, I don't know. I could see that being true but I'm willing to allow him a chance here in NYC.
Here's the bottom line. We dealt a declining and expensive asset (Rozsival) for an underachieving but talented 24 year-old. Rozsival accounts for $5 million against the cap and his deal runs through next season. Wolski's deal also expires after next season but accounts for only a $3.8 million cap hit. That's $1.2 Million in savings for us next year!!!!
If I were a betting man I wouldn't put my money on Rozsival playing up to his $5 million cap hit. Wolski on the other hand certainly could play up to his cap number. This deal screams clear win for Slats and the Rangers.
As for where to expect Wolski in the Rangers' lineup I would suspect him to possibly center Gaborik and Avery or possibly replace Avery on a line with Gabby and Anisimov. Avery has had 2 of his best games on the line with Gabby but with AA, Brian Boyle, and Derek Stepan around it may not be practical to line up Wolski at Center. Thus Avery may be forced to drop down to the 4th line.