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Posts tagged: Wojtek Wolski

The Latest on Rick Nash

12:47pm: Via Mark Spector, talks between the Rangers and Blue Jackets regarding Rick Nash have “advanced.” The reported package includes one of Ryan McDonagh or Michael Del Zotto, a prospect (apparently Tim Erixon), and a first round pick. The Rangers believe this offer gives them the edge over the Maple Leafs, and I would sure hope it would. That’s a serious haul.

As Dave said on Twitter, any deal bringing Nash to New York would have to involve Brandon Dubinsky going elsewhere for salary purposes. Columbus apparently doesn’t want him, which complicated things. It’s worth noting that Wojtek Wolski was not placed on waivers today according to Bob McKenzie, so his rather pricey salary will still count against the cap on Monday, trade deadline day.

I’m of the belief that the Rangers should look for an upgrade over the Stu Bickel/Steve Eminger/Jeff Woywitka trio, not subtract potentially two defensemen. We’ve seen the d-men get beat with speed quite a bit lately, and I don’t think that’s an accident. Dan Girardi, McDonagh, and MDZ have logged a ton of ice time this season, so adding another guy to soak up some minutes down the stretch makes sense. Anyway, I’ll update this post with any Nash-related rumors throughout the day.

Update (2:24pm): Per David Pagnotta, the Blue Jackets badly want Derek Stepan but will settle for Carl Hagelin. He mentions a package of Dubinsky, Stepan/Hagelin, Chris Kreider, plus a pick (not necessarily a first rounder), though it’s unclear if that’s on the table or if he’s speculating. Meanwhile, Larry Brooks hears that there’s nothing to the MDZ talk, but Erixon is in play. After the Wolski trade, the Rangers can add close to $11 million in cap hits at the deadline according to CapGeek. The money’s there if they want to do something big, or even two something bigs.

Wolski, Woywitka recalled from conditioning stints

Per the AHL transaction page, both Wojtek Wolski and Jeff Woywitka have been recalled following their two-week conditioning stints. Both guys got into six games with the Whale, with Wolski scoring three goals. He should step right back into the lineup tomorrow with Ruslan Fedotenko banged up, but Woywitka will probably have to sit on the sidelines a little longer. With any luck, Wolski will show something over the next few games and fetch something useful at the trade deadline.

Did Christensen’s Trade Save Wolski?

When the Rangers traded Erik Christensen yesterday, they dumped a spare forward for some much needed AHL help in Casey Wellman. The Rangers had 14 forwards on the roster, including Wojtek Wolski, who had just been shipped to Connecticut on a two week conditioning stint due to lack of playing time. When Wolski returns, he returns as the 13th forward, not the 14th forward.

Most NHL teams carry a spare forward for two reasons. The first is the most obvious: a spare body in case of injury. The second is to stir competition and force players to come to play game in and game out. It is John Tortorella’s style to keep a spare player around.

That spare player right now is Wolski, whether we like it or not. Wolski’s $3.8 million cap hit is not that appealing to many teams, but team control for his next contract might be –Wolski is a RFA.

For the next two weeks, Wolski will be playing with the CT Whale in what is likely an audition for a trade or a future NHL job. But with Christensen gone, the Rangers are less likely to just dump Wolski like they did with Christensen. Wolski fits the “spare forward” role well, meaning that he is not a prospect that the Rangers need to groom and he is not someone who appears to be a key cog in the immediate future of the organization.

Maybe Wolski should be calling Christensen and thanking him, because with Christensen gone, Wolski has that roster spot as the spare forward.  For now.

Woywitka, Wolski Sent To Connecticut For Conditioning

Per Katie Strang, the Rangers have assigned Jeff Woywitka and Wojtek Wolski to the Connecticut Whale of the AHL on a two week conditioning stint. This is to get them into some games so that they are not rusty, as neither has played much recently. Woywitka hasn’t played since December 30, and Wolski since January 15. Both had been serving as injury replacements in the lineup when need be.

Woywitka and Wolski are the second and third Rangers to be assigned to CT on a conditioning stint. Erik Christensen was assigned last month and has since completed his stint.

Why the Rangers Need To Cut Loose Wolski

The Rangers need to get rid of Wojtek Wolski one way or the other. His presence may not be that of a locker room cancer but his salary, tantalising ability and mere presence make him a distraction and a temptation for the coaching staff.

Wolski clearly cannot play consistently in Tortorella’s system. A few good shifts here and there are simply not enough for someone with his skill set and contract. Erik Christensen is in a similar position to Wolski but doesn’t possess the same cap issues that Wolski does. Christensen’s ability, but above all his cap hit, are what give him a regular stay of execution. Wolski doesn’t have that luxury.

If the Rangers don’t intend (and nor should they at this stage) to give Wolski an extended run in the side – in a position that befits his skill set – then they should look elsewhere within the organisation. Wolski clearly doesn’t have a future in the organisation so it would make sense to have a guy like Christensen be the extra man and perhaps audition players like Zuccarello and Audy-Marchessault who have been excelling in the minors and who may, or may not have a future with the big club.

The Rangers can afford to try out a few players on the roster because of their record, because of the quality goaltending and defense keeping them in practically every game and because many players aren’t making themselves indispensible up front.

If Zuccarello finally fails to convince he has a Rangers future or Audy-Marchessault looks more minor league than major league then by ridding themselves of Wolski it at least gives the club manoeuvrability within the salary cap. Whether they can get something in return for him (unlikely at this stage) or by demotion or releasing him, the Rangers need to let go of Wolski for a variety of reasons.

Three Games Later, Wolski Is Again In The Doghouse

Maybe “doghouse” isn’t the right word to use here, but after three games back in the lineup Wojtek Wolski has found himself back on the fourth line with minimal ice time. Used as an injury replacement for Brandon Dubinsky, Wolski was flying in his first game back (the 3-0 loss to the Senators). After that, it appeared that the winger was back to his old ways, as he played just 12 shifts for 7:20 in the Rangers 3-0 win over Toronto.

Last night, the winger was used sparingly at best, finishing with 11 shifts and 6:20 of ice time. Wolski was on the ice with Kris Newbury –called up to replace the injured Ruslan Fedotenko– and Mike Rupp for three of the Canadiens goals last night. Wolski finished with a -3 rating that was very indicative of his play: sloppy, lazy, and poor in his own end.

The Rangers focus this year has been on a team game, with players willing to go through a wall for coach John Tortorella. Wolski does not appear to fit that mold. His play in his own end has always been poor, but it’s more about the lack of effort displayed by the winger. Wolski can be a great player, but that’s only when he wants to be. The Rangers want to be great players for each other and for the coach –a view Wolski does not share.

When Wolski has played, he has been in the bold of Erik Christensen: some great shifts, but mostly just shifts consisting of poor defensive play, and poor play away from the puck. That does not fit in with this Rangers club.

In the end, Wolski likely won’t be back next year, and there’s an outside chance that he won’t even be a Ranger at the end of the season. Be it by trade, demotion, or straight up cutting him loose, Wolski is not a part of the future of the team. It’s a shame too, because he’s a tremendous talent that could be very successful in this league if he just cared on a daily basis.

Expect Avery To Be Waived When Wolski Is Activated

 Update 6:45pm: Per commenter Adam, he noted that only Staal is on LTIR, not Wolski. So the cap information here is irrelevant. Only roster space needs to be cleared. I still think Avery is the one to go, but it could be Erik Christensen as well.

The holiday roster freeze ends tomorrow, and the Rangers will have several moves to make to not only free up space for players returning from injury, but to free up the cap space that is required to activate those players. While most of the focus will be on the blue line –and rightfully so– there will be some movement among the forwards as well.

The roster move that is going to have major implications for the Rangers is the activation of Wojtek Wolski, who has been making significant progress on his sports hernia injury. He was skating earlier this month, and the rumors were that he could be back this week. That means his $3.8 million salary comes off LTIR, and the Rangers will need to clear space to get there.

The activation of Wolski also means that the Rangers will have 24 players on the roster, not including players on LTIR. The NHL roster limit is 23 players, so right there the Rangers have to make moves to get under that limit. Since there are 15 forwards on the roster right now, including Wolski, a forward will have to be demoted. To clear the cap space, only one roster move among the forwards needs to be made, and it’s the simple move of waiving Sean Avery (GASP!).

All sarcasm aside, waiving Avery is the only move that makes sense. It clears cap space and roster space for Wolski. It is the only move that can be made to clear enough room for Wolski. In fact, it may not be enough. Tim Erixon and his $1.75 million salary may also need to be returned to the CT Whale to make room.

Those two moves will leave the Rangers with 14 forwards and 6 defensemen on the roster. Now of course, it is going to be VERY interesting to see what the Rangers do to clear room for Marc Staal and his $3.975 million salary.

Wolski Skating: Who Will Sit?

The news broke the other day, via Wojtek Wolski’s twitter, that he is back on the ice and skating following sports hernia surgery. The Rangers have not necessarily missed Wolski, going 9-2-0 in the month of November, but his return can be viewed as a good sign. Wolski certainly has skill, but the question is whether he fits into the current makeup of the roster.

While the initial reaction is to say that he should still sit, let’s keep in mind that he may not return for a few weeks, and a lot can happen. The Rangers can falter, and need a jolt in the lineup. Also, any of the callups can falter and be sent back down to the AHL. There can also be a few injuries. While this may not be an issue at the moment, it has the potential to become an issue.

Why is Wolski returning an ‘issue’? Simply put, his $3.8 million cap hit would no longer be on LTIR, meaning the Rangers need to get back under the cap. Due to some current internet restrictions, I cannot get exact numbers from Capgeek, but last time I checked the Rangers had less than $100k in cap space, but about $3 million in LTIR overages to work with. When Wolski comes back, the overages disappear, and the Rangers will need to clear some cap space, likely about $1 million -$1.5 million or so.

There are a few options here. First Erik Christensen, who has been a healthy scratch since the recall of Carl Hagelin and John Mitchell, does not appear to have a spot on this roster anymore. It is likely that upon Wolski’s return, he and his $925k cap hit would be waived. While that clears most of the cap space needed, it does not completely address the problem.

Shifting the focus to John Mitchell and his $650k cap hit, it is likely that in the event of a Wolski return, he would be the second guy to go to clear space. Waiving Mitchell clears both cap space and a roster spot in the starting 12 forwards. So to summarize, the likely move(s) would be to waive both Christensen and Mitchell.

Disclaimer: I do not have the exact cap numbers in front of me, so it is entirely possible that the Rangers need only waive Christensen to clear all of the cap space required to keep Wolski and Mitchell on the roster. However, I do not think that is possible.

Of course there is a third option here, and that is to just waive Wolski himself. But that comes with significant risk. The Rangers are a shot blocking team, and with that comes injuries. While Wolski would definitely clear waivers initially, he would not clear re-entry waivers should the Rangers need to use him in the event of an injury. Simply put, if Wolski is waived, he remains in the AHL until his contract expires. Re-entry waivers would expose him to the remaining 29 teams at 50% of his salary ($1.9 million)…someone will bite on that.

It’s an interesting situation the Rangers have with Wolski getting healthy again. On one hand there’s the skill that Wolski would bring to the lineup, but on the other there’s the inconsistency and the cap hit. It’s a similar situation to what the Rangers had last year when Michal Rozsival went down with an injury. The end result was Ryan McDonagh staying and Rozsival being traded (ironincally enough for Wolski). It’s entirely possible that the play of Carl Hagelin could have a Rozsival-like effect on Wolski. Oh the irony.

Wolski To Have Sports Hernia Surgery

Per Jesse Spector on Twitter, winger Wojtek Wolski will be out a minimum of four weeks, as he will be undergoing sports hernia surgery. Wolski has been bothered by a groin injury all season, and it has limited him to just six of the Rangers first 13 games. The surgery will hopefully correct any lingering issues he has been suffering from this season. This might also mean that maybe coach John Tortorella’s shot at Wolski about the getting out of the tub may have been a tab premature.

Wolski was placed on IR yesterday, and will be there for the next four to six weeks. Erik Christensen and Sean Avery will be safe in the lineup for now, until either Wolski or Mike Rupp (also having surgery) return.

The press release is after the jump.

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Rupp, Wolski To IR

Following up with the news that winger Mike Rupp will have knee surgery, the enforcer has been placed on long term injured reserve. Also placed on LTIR was Wojtek Wolski, who re-injured his groin Thursday against the Ducks, after sitting out a good portion of the Western Canada road trip with the same injury. Groin injuries are tricky, so his timetable for a return is likely up in the air as well.

With both players on IR –and Marc Staal, the Rangers have some additional cap space to work with when trying to fill holes. We highlighted how Staal’s trip to LTIR made it possible for Sean Avery’s return earlier, but now with additional cap space the Rangers may be able to find some room for someone like Mats Zuccarello or another player with a higher cap hit.

Of course, the Rangers current replacements (ie: Andre Deveaux) have been playing very well as an injury replacement, and the Rangers might not need another replacement yet. If a top-nine forward goes down, then you might see a Zuccarello or a Carl Hagelin be called up.