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.

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  • I may be wrong, but with both Staal, and WW on the LTIR, we had plenty of cap space. Sending EC down makes plenty of sense because he is too inconsistant, and goes through the motions more times than not.

    What use is WW to us, well he is good for the shoot outs, and what else? Can’t think of too much more than that. With the Hagelin kid, he is sound both ways, seems to have soft hands, and could be used in the shoot out if need be!

    Another thought just for the sake of it. What about the Stralman (spelling?) guy, the defenseman who is trying to get into game shape? If it’s taking him this long to get there, he must have been in sad shape, or maybe he can’t learn the system. I wasn’t too pleased with that signing, if the Devils didn’t want him, why would we? By sending him down, he can get in shape in the AHL, cut our cap issue some, and then we may be in a position to keep WW up, worst case senerio!

    Question, because we had two large salaries on the LTIR, is there hit pro-rated, meaning this should make dealing for us easier, because the hit didn’t take place for the entire season, just the part they will play? If anyone the answer, please post, it would be interesting!!!!

    • My understanding of LTIR is that the prorated cap hit while the player is on LTIR is allowed as cap overage, meaning the team can go over the cap by that amount.

      LTIR is incredibly complicated, my knowledge is hazy at best.

  • If no one wanted Avery off waivers, no one will want WW. I’d get rid of him and bring kids up if that dreaded injury occurs. What has Wolski contributed, other than disappointment? Then you have Rupp riding the pines and keep John Mitchell on the roster , who has more points and grit than WW and EC piled on top of each other.

  • There is another possibility Dave, given the dislike Tortorella have for Avery,it is possible that Avery will be waived again. I hope it will not happen but if it does, The Ranger nation should rebell against Tortorella and start a campain to get him fired.I know the team is playing well right now but IMO. it is a player personnel who should get most of the credit not Torts.

    • If Avery stays out of the box, which he has, I don’t see him getting demoted.

      Glad to see you don’t give credit to Torts when they are winning, but you want to burn him at the stakes when they lose two games. Not contradictory at all.

      Good luck with your fire Tortorella rally.

      • It’s people like scrangersfan that make the Rangers fan base look bad.

        Are you serious, bro? You are the CLASSIC example of putting ONE player up on a pedastal and not giving two craps about “team.”

        Settle down your Avery erection. It’s embarassing.

        It’s unfortunate that the Rangers fan base has turned into a bunch of no-nothings. They are a far cry from the true fans they used to have. And as of now, there are very little true fans left.

        • Dear god Chris,

          You should hear the guy behind me at the games. He’s Livia Soprano in hockey “fan” format — lives to bitch and moan.

          The Pens game after a goal scored from the slot, about 10 ft out on a one timer, high glove side corner in the opposite direction:

          “God Henrik, you need to make that save, weak goal”

          You can imagine what he says about MDZ or anyone else for that matter.

          • Haha. I don’t even want to know. When I go to games, I hear a spattering of that kind of stuff, too. And they could be up by 5 goals. Makes no sense.

        • Chris, it is no secret that Tortorella dislikes Avery. Did you hear the comment he made about Avery when he was an NHL analist? apperently you did not.
          The fact is I dislike Torts. as much as he dislikes Avery and we are entitled to our opinions aren’t we?
          AS for Me not being a true Rangers fan I’d like you to know that I have been a Rangers fan since 1964 and have been with them through good and bad. I bleed Ranger blue so please don’t tell me that I’m a lousy fan just because I express an opinion that you do’t agree with.

          • Well if your philosophy is correct regarding Torts hating Avery when he wasn’t coaching the Rangers, then every player that has ever been traded to a team with a player they hated means they STILL hated that player, even though they were teammates now. It makes no sense.

            It’s not clear that Torts still hates Avery. We aren’t in the locker room. So we have no place to make a judgement like that.

            I never said you weren’t entitled to your opinion. You left yours and I left mine. That’s the great thing about America.

            It’s safe to say that majority of people that dislike Torts, dislike him SOLELY because of Sean Avery. I say this because whenever Torts hatred is brought up, his treatment of Sean Avery is almost always part of the conversation. They think that Avery is this “savior.” Quite frankly, I’m tired of the “woe is Avery” talk.

            I love this team. I don’t love one player.

      • The Suit,
        I never said anything when they lost two games but now that you mension it, yes I want to burn Tototrella whither The Rangers win or loose.

        • Now that you *mention* it, why do you want to burn *Tortorella* *whether* they win or *lose*,

          Why? Would you really like to see the team losing? Is protecting the honor of your favorite players more important? Because if that’s the issue, they can do that just fine themselves.

        • Scrangers fan, I disagree with alot of people here, but I often understand what influences those opinions and I can generally move on accordingly, save a few.

          The fact that you want Torts gone win or lose shows me you lack rational thought in your observations of what goes into coaching. Maybe you have never played the game, maybe you’ve never been around coaches at any level, maybe you are just stubborn and are unwilling to learn anymore.

          I hope you find our other writers interesting, but I am sorry, I have nothing more to offer you.

    • Listen man, I love Avery, I love what he’s about. But there was a reason he was looked over in the beginning of the season. It was a wake up call and fire was lit under his ass.
      He came back, played his style, but played smart in his style and played under TORTS SYSTEM. One could even dare say that Torts should be given some CREDIT for this Avery renaissance.

      Torts isn’t blindly saying “man I don’t like this guy, let’s get him out of here”. He was making roster decisions based on play and what he had on the team and his projected expectations of those players.

      Some players were injured, some players were under performing, and he made decisions based on that as the early season progressed. It’s worked out.

      And yes, let’s give the players credit for playing well, but I don’t think anyone looked at the roster, especially at season start, and said “this is one of the most naturally talented groups in the NHL”.

      Torts took pieces of great talent, pieces of hard working players, pieces of potential, and put them in a SYSTEM that works for these players.

      The reason that we can grab players from The Whale and they can step in and perform is 1) we have talented prospects and 2) they are playing under the same SYSTEM and are set up to succeed.

      I wouldn’t like Avery being sent down but 1) Torts will not do that out of spite, it will be a merit-based decision and 2) if he does and this team keeps winning, it’s still the right decision. It’s about the team, not 16…despite him being one of my favorites.

  • if coaching doesnt mean anything why in the past week did we have TWO coaching changes due to “we need a new voice” teams loaded with all stars btw. i mean after all its all personnel.

  • Hockeyguy Chris, no need to tear scrangersfan a new one. Not sure what’s irritating you so much about what he says. He loves Avery, that’s a fan’s prerogative. Suit, I guess if Tortellini is such a genius, we must also look to Glen Sather and credit him with the Rangers’ success forgetting about the past decade or so. I don’t buy this. I think the players have grown confident as a team, and individuals are performing at or above expectations, including Gaborik, Callahan, Richards, Stepan and Anisimov. I love Sean Avery and think that he is a part of this, if a small one, because of what he brings to the table. Since we are winning, it would be stupid to fire the coach, but if the wheels fall off, he’ll go the way of Boudreau, though I doubt he’ll find a new job so quickly. To me, its taken 4 years for Tort’s system to work, not a great system in my mind. I still hate his line switching, and his doucheness at press conferences, but you can’t argue with a winning record. I wouldn’t shed a tear if he was fired and I am still a real Rangers fan.

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