Not sure if you saw it, but the Rangers made a minor move last night, acquiring Wojtek Wolski from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for defenseman Michal Rozsival. The Rangers made the move after losing Alex Frolov for the remainder of the season with a mangled knee, the fifth Rangers forward (Frolov, Vinny Prospal, Ryan Callahan, Erik Christensen, Derek Boogaard) to hit the IR this month. When the Rangers recalled Kris Newbury to replace Frolov in the lineup, they knew they had a problem. Newbury isn’t exactly the answer the Rangers wanted, especially when they already have AHL call up Dale Weise playing on the fourth line. With Wolski now in the fold, the Rangers now have more options than they did with Newbury, who would be relegated to the fourth line.
With Wolski, the Rangers received a top-nine forward with tremendous skill. It is well known that Wolski’s skill set would land him a top-six spot on most teams if he could put it all together, but the young winger has yet to do so on a consistent basis. With the Rangers, Wolski will likely be given top-six minutes (with the Ruslan Fedotenko-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust line cemented as the third line) and powerplay time, possibly with Marian Gaborik. Of course, Gaborik is still looking for a left wing that he can click with, having failed to click with pretty much every other forward on the Rangers roster.
Newbury does not provide the Rangers with enough scoring skill that would warrant a top-six spot in the lineup. With Newbury, Weise, and Avery pretty much guaranteed fourth line duties, the Rangers did not have flexibility with their top forwards without breaking up that Fedotenko-Boyle-Prust line that has been so effective. Wolski’s ability to play top minutes also gives the coaching staff more flexibility to make on-the-fly changes as the team tries to figure out where he fits in with the team. Wolski also gives the Rangers the ability to put Chris Drury back on the fourth line when Ryan Callahan, who resumed skating this week, returns; which gives the Rangers much more depth. The Rangers skill level has always been a weak point for them. Their skill level just took a big step forward with this trade.