Rangers trade Wojtek Wolski to Panthers
Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 12:51 PM / 2012 Trade Deadline
The New York Rangers have traded forward Wojtek Wolski to the Florida Panthers, who sent a third-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft and minor-league defenseman Mike Vernace to the Rangers.
Wolski has no goals and three assists in nine games for the Rangers this season. He was acquired from Phoenix in January 2011 and had six goals and 19 points in 37 games for the Rangers after the deal. He is in the final year of a two-year contract at $3.8 million per season.
While his offense has been non-existent this season, Wolski does have some offensive ability and has proven to be a streaky scorer. He is especially good in the shootout tiebreaker.
Wolski has 22 goals on 51 shootout attempts in his career. Those 22 goals are tied for 11th in the League since the shootout came into existence in 2005-06. Pavel Datsyuk and Carolina's Jussi Jokinen both lead with 30 apiece. With standings points at a premium during the final quarter of the season, Wolski's penalty-shot prowess will certainly be a boon.
In 2010, Phoenix acquired Wolski from Colorado and Wolski responded by scoring 18 points in 18 games. The next year, he went to the Rangers in another transaction and he put up eight points in his first 10 games. He has 249 points in 402 NHL games.
"We are very pleased to have acquired Wojtek," Florida general manager Dale Tallon said. "He is a skilled forward with scoring ability who will fit in very well to our lineup."
This year the 26-year-old forward has missed time with a pair of injuries, and was loaned to Connecticut in the American Hockey League for a conditioning stint. He has been a healthy scratch for the Rangers of late.
It is Florida's second trade in as many days, following a deal Friday afternoon for forward Jarred Smithson from Nashville. The Panthers, hoping to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2000, are in an extremely close battle for a spot. Entering play Saturday, Florida held the No. 8 spot in the East, one point better than division rival Washington and Toronto and just one point behind Southeast Divsion leader Winnipeg, which sits third in the conference.
The Panthers play Saturday night against Carolina. According to reports, Wolski is expected to be in the lineup. He is expected to wear No. 8.
For the Rangers, getting the rest of Wolski's $3.8 million salary off the books may have been the biggest impetus for the deal. The Rangers have been rumored to be entertaining a few deals before the trade deadline Monday afternoon -- including a blockbuster move for Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets -- and the added salary-cap flexibility will certainly help.
"This year, through his injuries, and then (Carl) Hagelin comes up and plays, (John) Mitchell comes up and plays, we just run out of spots," Rangers coach John Tortorella told a room full of reporters at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. "He's a good guy, I wish him the best. It's best for him. Our lineup evolved and there just weren't any spots."
Vernace, 25, has one assist in 22 games of NHL experience. He played 12 games with the Colorado Avalanche in 2008-09 and another 10 with the Tampa Bay Lightning this past season.