Monday, January 10, 2011

Wolski traded to Rangers: Deja Vu?

Wojtek Wolski is a New York Ranger.  Traded today for Czech defenseman Michal Rozsival, Wolski will be looking for a fresh start in the Big Apple on a team team.  Wait, have we heard this before? Sort of.

When Wojtek Wolski was traded from the Colorado Avalanche to the Phoenix Coyotes last year, it appeared to be a winning deal for both teams involved.  The play Wolski was traded for, Peter Mueller, was struggling with the Coyotes, but lit it up with the Colorado Avalanche almost immediately.

Wolski followed suit.  An occasional healthy scratch for Colorado, Wolski's defensive play was questioned at times, even though his offensive instincts and talents seemed obvious.  Eventually, both teams felt both players could use a fresh start with a new team.

The move to Phoenix payed immediate dividends as Wolski quickly tallied 18 points in 18 games as a Coyote.  The outlook for 2011 looked fantastic, but the results simply weren't there.  Wolski finds himself with only 16 points in the 36 games he's played this year - a far cry from the point per game player the Coyotes possessed last season.

On the Rangers, Wolski will join a squad that has depth down the middle but could use some help on the wings, and always seems to be battling injuries.  In Wolski, the Rangers get a talented young forward with great reach and a lot of skill.  Time will tell if he can put everything together long term - but if the move from Colorado to Phoenix last year is any indication, you could see a surge in productivity from this slumping sniper.

On the other end of the deal, a defensively solid Coyotes team just got better.  With Wolski as a passenger offensively for most of the year, the Coyotes will likely give someone else his ice time at forward in the hope that they can produce beyond the sub-par clip they were accustomed to.  The real value in this deal is obviously strengthening their blue line.  Rozsival brings experience and stability to a Coyotes blueline that already boosts veteran Ed Jovanovski and the very underrated Keith Yandle.  With this move in place, look for the Coyotes to claw their way up the Western Conference Standings and secure a playoff spot.

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