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Player Profile: Wojtek Wolski

Posted By Adam Gavriel On Feb 15 2011 @ 2:12 pm In New York Rangers | No Comments

13 days from the trade deadline I can’t help but wonder who I’ve done a player profile segment on thus far will not be with the team (a la Michal Rozsival) and what shiny new toys I’ll be able to write about after.  But 13 days and two player profiles to go before then (including this one) I have to forge on with what the Rangers currently have. So, speaking of shiny new toys, Wolski has now been with the Rangers for the past 15 games, sadly during that span the Rangers have gone a combined 5-9-1. Welcome to the team at the wrong time Wojtek. But thus far from what I’ve seen of him I like the potential he possesses, and even though he is currently day to day with a rib injury I think he’ll play an important part for the Rangers throughout the rest of the season…

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 215 lbs

Age: 24(25 on 2/24)

Drafted: 1st round (21st overall) in 2004 by the Colorado Avalanche

NHL experience: Currently in his 6th NHL season

Contract: $3.8 million; Restricted Free Agent after 2011-2012 season

Before the NHL:

The Polish native Wolski wasted no time in taking his talents to North America to build up his experience and make a name for himself to achieve his ultimate goal of making the NHL. Playing in North America since the 2002-2003 season for Brampton of the Ontario Hockey League Wolski made it known that he was NHL bound.

Wolski’s OHL career was illustrious and the expertise of his skills really shined in his fourth year in the league with Brampton. That season Wolski recorded 128 points (47 goals and 81 assists) in just 56 games. With this feat Wolski was able to grab the leagues award for Most Outstanding Player. He even earned himself a late season call up to the Avalanche that season to help them in their playoff run.

International:

Wolski has never represented Poland in any major tournament.

NHL Success:

Wolski’s story is an interesting one. At the young age of 24 the Rangers represent the third NHL organization that Wolski has played for.

His days as a member of the Colorado Avalanche were downhill after his first season. Wolski’s rookie season (06-07) was a promising one as he was able to pot 50 points (22 goals and 28 assists) for the Avalanche which was good for fourth among all NHL rookies (Malkin, Stastny, Kopitar). From that season however the Avalanche began to question Wolski’s potential as well as his drive to reach that potential.

Wolski would spend two and a half more seasons with the Avalanche before being dealt to the Phoenix Coyotes on March 3rd 2010 for Petr Muller and Kevin Porter. In those 2 seasons after his rookie year, Wolski’s production fell to 48 points and 42 points respectively. His time with the Avalanche had run out.

Wolski proved a very important part to Phoenix in the 18 regular season games he played with them. He recorded 6 goals and 12 assists to put him on a point per game place and help the Coyotes make the playoffs for the first time since the 2001-2002 season. Although they were eliminated in a heated 7 game series with Detroit in the first round of the playoffs, Wolski scored 4 goals and added an assist in the series and Phoenix thought they had landed on a hidden gem.

This season however didn’t seem to go the way Wolski and the Coyotes had envisioned it for each other however. Appearing in only 36 games for the Coyotes Wolski was not the player he was for them during the playoff push. His numbers were down and he was even a healthy scratch some nights. The Coyotes found themselves in the market for a veteran dman and the Rangers were able to oblige with Michal Rozsival, since then Wolski has been with the Rangers.

In his 15 games with the Rangers Wolski has been quite what I expected him to be. Dominant some nights and somewhat invisible on others. Extremely creative in the offensive zone and with the right linemates (here in NY I believe those to be Stepan and Zuccarello) can produce great offensive chances. Wolski was a little slow in learning the defensive scheme that Tortorella has the Rangers working but has since picked up on it working himself into the groove and gaining the team chemistry necessary with these Rangers to become a successful part of the team.

Outlook 2010-2011 and Beyond:

In the 15 games thus far with the Rangers Wolski has recorded 3 goals and 7 points and is a +5. Tortorella has even started using Wolski on the point during the power play. He seems to be fitting in just fine here with the Rangers.

Wolski’s rib injury appears to be a day to day thing and he could even be back into the lineup as soon as the Rangers face off against the Kings on Thursday. If nothing else in his career Wolski has proved that he is a key cog in the lineup in pushing for a playoff spot. In his 5 years prior to this season he has played in a playoff game in three of those seasons. He’s a solid playoff performer with a career of 14 points in 22 playoff games. I believe in the Rangers push to the playoffs this season Wolski will play an integral part.

However it is Wolski’s future with the Rangers that has me curious. With another year left on his contract at a $3.8 million hit, Wolski may find himself as extremely expendable. With players such as Dubinsky, Callahan, Anisimov, Sauer, and Boyle becoming RFA’s this off season Sather is going to need to save up as much cap space he can to give them all the raises they deserve. Also if Sather’s true intentions are to in fact sign Brad Richards this offseason he’s going to need the money to do that as well.

What it all comes down to is how important the Rangers believe Wolski can be to them in the future of this organization and that is a decision that will come down to what Tortorella and Sather decide upon.

My take? I think Wolski, barring the fact that he’s the biggest reason the Rangers make the playoffs and make a deep run in the playoffs, becomes one of the most expendable Rangers this off season and he could be traded for the 3rd time in his young career in the NHL for the Rangers to save some cap room.

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