Did Wolski’s Wonky Groin Costs Him Top Line Spot?

October 13, 2011, by

Wojtek Wolski was the natural player to pencil in for the top line in training camp and the preseason. He is clearly the most skilled of the Rangers forwards after Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, and has proved in the past that when he has solid players playing with him, he performs as well. When he was placed on the top line with Richards and Gaborik, the line looked good. It’s tough for that line not to look good, but Wolski seemed to be a nice fit in that left wing spot.  Then he hurt his groin.

Wolski’s strained groin led to him sitting out a portion of the preseason games, forcing cocach John Tortorella to juggle the lines a bit. Brandon Dubinsky played nicely there, and now Derek Stepan is getting his chance. Should Stepan succeed, the Rangers have a very dangerous 1-2 punch with their top six forwards. Unfortunately for Wolski, he likely won’t get an opportunity to play with Richards and Gaborik should the Stepan experiment succeed. That begs the question: did his injury kill his top line aspirations?

It’s tough to say yes or no to this question. On the surface, it appears that it did, as Wolski was the penciled in guy. But, it would be silly for the coaching staff not to try all available options and see what works out not just for that line, but for the other three lines as well. Those two answers make it difficult to really say whether or not his groin cost him his spot.

While it is a good assumption that the first 15 games will be spent doing some line tinkering, that may not be the case should these current lines succeed. The top two lines are a dangerous top two, and we’ve seen what third line is capable of. Since coaches don’t juggle the lines to get the fourth, there is a good chance that we may not see any changes to the top nine forwards. If that winds up being the case, then Wolski may never get another opportunity to prove his case for the top line.

Categories : Analysis


  1. Rickyrants13 says:

    My first reaction to this was WOOOOOOO there. It is way to soon to even bring this up. Afterall Wolski’s inj is why they are so called juggling the lines in the first place.

    This being said and Torts past of never seeming to get anything right. I think its a fair bet that unless the new lines go on a scoring tear that WW. will get another shot at it. And that Stepan will not bring the size that is needed to the first line to stick there as was the case with Dubi so far.

  2. jerry says:

    id love something like this.the fourth line rarely gets used anyway.

    Derek Stepan ($0.875m) / Brad Richards ($6.666m) / Marian Gaborik ($7.500m)
    Brandon Dubinsky ($4.200m) / Artem Anisimov ($1.875m) / Ryan Callahan ($4.275m)
    Ruslan Fedotenko ($1.400m) / Brian Boyle ($1.700m) / Brandon Prust ($0.800m)
    Michael Rupp ($1.500m) / Kris Newbury ($0.512m) / John Mitchell ($0.650m)

    Marc Staal ($3.975m) / Daniel Girardi ($3.325m)
    Tim Erixon ($1.750m) / Ryan McDonagh ($1.300m)
    Michael Del Zotto ($1.087m) / Mike Sauer ($1.250m)
    Steve Eminger ($0.800m)

    Henrik Lundqvist ($6.875m) / Martin Biron ($0.875m)

    BUYOUTS: Chris Drury ($1.666m)

    CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
    (these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)
    SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $54,858,334; BONUSES: $1,275,000
    CAP SPACE (21-man roster): $9,441,666

    • jerry says:

      and look at the space we can have.

    • Dave says:

      Who’s the 13th forward? I’ll assume Zuccarello?

      • jerry says:

        thanks.that i dont know.i tnink zucs better off as trade bait.and christensen better off gone.

        • jerry says:

          or even though i hate him more than you leave christensen as the 13th just because of salary.

    • Scully says:

      Oh look 9 mil in cap space and Patrick Elias is going to be a free agent and is a left winger hmmmmmm…..

      (and that’s how a bill becomes a law)

      • Scully says:

        btw I am advocating this route and not being sarcastic.

        • The Suit says:

          Too bad, I hoped you weren’t advocating signing a 36 year old when we have Kreiders, Thomas, and Hagelins on the way.

          • Scully says:

            oops! sorry actually meant Zach Parise! Who’s also a left wing haha… sorry.


            • scrangersfan says:

              To sign Parise,it will take 7 mils.per year for 5 years and the Rangers can not fit that under the cap. They already have three players in that range. Parise would be a huge addition though.He would be a better addition then Richards or Gaborik.More productive anyway.

            • The Suit says:

              Scully, I’d love to have Parise on this team too. I’d also love to have Patek Philippe time piece, an Ashton Martin, and a villa overlooking the Amalfi Coast.

              We can’t have it all my friend.

    • Bobby G says:

      In my mind, this is the absolute best case scenario. I would love nothing more than to see these lines. This would make our bottom line an actual gritty line with a little bit of offensive upside, rather than a bunch of spare parts who don’t fit anywhere else.

  3. Bway Bshirt says:

    It changes nothing. tortorella will be tinkering lines all year.

  4. Eric says:

    With Avery in the minors the Dallas Stars are just above the cap floor. Why not trade Wolski to the Stars for a bag of pucks? Free up cap space and trade one of the kid’s for a top line left winger? Torts has stop tinkering with the lines and let the guy’s play together and development chemistry. We are good team that could make some noise but not a top tier team in the East yet.

    • Dave says:

      Dallas is bankrupt, they can’t afford Wolski.

    • Alex says:

      This team has the talent on the first two lines and pop on the third line to do damage. Plus the fourth line has skill, which is great against other fourth lines around the league. Depending on Mark’s condition our defense is one of the best in the league in terms of shut down type, and Hank is our anchor with a solid back up in Biron. This team can be a top 4 force in the east, however Torts needs to set the lines and stay with it!

  5. Sioux-per-man says:

    There’s always going to be an injury to someone during the season!!! Wolski will get his chances soon enough.
    Wolski/Step/Zucc should be able to play anywhere in the line up.
    It’s good to have competition, and I’m with Tort’s give it a fresh look until something “sparks”. If it scores – it STAYS, if it takes a SHIFT off – it sits!!!!

    I don’t care how many Millions the player is making, they all have to contribute to the TEAM.

    Tort’s makes this team FUN to watch!!! Nothing against Renny, he got the team to the playoffs, now it’s up to Tort’s to get us to the Stanley Cup!!!

    We are on our way. One shift at a time!!!

    Step I hope you Step it up and stick on this line. Best of Luck, and don’t forget to bury the puck!

    • scrangersfan says:

      This team will never win the cup with Tortarella at the helm.Tonight will be a telling story of what is to come this season.