As being reported from various media outlets, the Rangers have acquired Columbus Blue Jacket RW Chad Kolarik in exchange for LW Dane Byers. Originally drafted #48 overall by the Rangers in 2004, Byers played in only 6 games for the Rangers, tallying a single point, that being a goal against the Minnesota Wild. Kolarik was drafted 199th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes in the same 2004 draft and subsequently went to fulfill 4 years of eligibility at the University of Michigan. Kolarik has appeared twice for the Jackets this season, and never got his name on the scoresheet.
As an avid fan of the University of Michigan, its always nice to see one of their former players finding their way into the Blueshirts organization (still trying to get over Al Montoya). Kolarik captained the Wolverines his senior year and was a leading candidate for the Hobey Baker (along with teammate and eventual winner Kevin Porter) until an injury sidelined him for a key part of the stretch run. He averaged nearly 20 goals per season in college, which is solid considering most teams only play 40 games. Kolarik has had some success in the AHL, averaging roughly 50 points in 2 seasons. He is a very skilled skater with speed and quickness who can play with some grit and create chances for his own, which is just the type of player Tortorella enjoys. I don’t see him being anything more than minor league player this season, with the potential to be called up to fill a roster spot in the event that someone gets injure.
As for Byers, it seems that the Rangers are content with the oversized players they currently have on the roster. The 6’3” winger wasn’t able to make a consistent impact at the big league level. The Rangers probably see more potential for Kolarik in Tortella’s system, and Byers will have to try and find his niche in the Columbus organization.