Panthers hope for offensive boost from Wolski

Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 8:37 PM / 2012 Trade Deadline

By Kurt Dusterberg - Correspondent

RALEIGH -- Florida general manager Dale Tallon has found it tough to complete a trade in recent weeks, but he made one Saturday that he believes will make a difference: The Panthers acquired Wojtek Wolski from the New York Rangers in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft and minor-league defenseman Mike Vernace.

"There weren't many options, and this was an option we felt was an addition who has a chance to play here for many years if he has success over the last 23 games," Tallon said at the RBC Center, where the Panthers played the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night.

Their lineup included Wolski, who had not played in an NHL game since Jan. 15. He has missed much of the season with a groin injury and has had trouble cracking the lineup of the Rangers, the top team in the Eastern Conference.

But Tallon is hoping Wolski, who turned 26 on Friday, can make the same kind of splash he made when he was traded from Colorado to Phoenix at the 2010 trade deadline. Upon joining the Coyotes, Wolski had six goals and 18 points in 18 games, helping the Coyotes make the playoffs. Tallon sees the 26-year old as a versatile addition to Florida's forward ranks, which have been riddled with injuries for much of the season.

"I look for him to give us some options on the power play and overtime and shootouts, which have been a struggle for us this year," said Tallon, whose team has lost seven times in the tiebreaker this season -- all at home. "Looking at our offensive production of late and our shootout record, we felt we had to add some piece to our offense that didn't interfere with what we're trying to do long-term as well."

The trade is the second in two days for the Panthers, who on Friday picked up forward Jerred Smithson from Nashville in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft. Smithson has accumulated 89 points in 527 games in a nine-year career split between Los Angeles and Nashville.

The Florida GM is counting on a strong dressing room to help bring his new players on board.

"It's more depth and more bodies," Tallon said. "We're going to need everybody that's healthy over the remaining 23 games. We're a banged up team. We needed to add pieces to the puzzle, and that's what we intend to do."

Tallon didn't rule out making more moves ahead of Monday's trade deadline.

"We're not going to sit still, but we're not going to mortgage the future," he said. "We have a lot of depth and a lot of prospects that we could possibly move. But it has to make sense now and for the long-term as well."