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Is Wojtek Wolski the eventual odd man out in New York?

Jul 17, 2011, 3:07 PM EDT

Wojtek Wolski Getty Images

The New York Rangers’ offseason was dominated by the signing of Brad Richards. Richards was signed to a mammoth nine-year, $60 million contract to help solve their problem of not having a true playmaker to set up Marian Gaborik and lead their offense.

With Richards in place, Chris Drury bought out and made a free agent, and Brian Boyle locked up to a three-year deal while they await deals to be finalized with restricted free agents Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan there are some potential roster questions left to be answered in New York.

According to CapGeek.com, the Rangers have just over $53 million committed to the cap with Dubinsky and Callahan waiting to be signed. Depending on whether or not Glen Sather or the salary arbitrators have some salary savvy in them, you can expect both of them to get a nice a raise. Callahan’s last contract had him making $2.3 million on the cap and Dubinsky’s deal had him making $1.85 million. As both players had better years, you can expect them to get paid a bit more and perhaps for long term deals as well.

Since having cap flexibility is a huge thing for all teams, the Rangers will have some moves to potentially make and some that won’t be easy. That leaves one well-paid winger potentially out in the cold in Wojtek Wolski. As The Daily News’ Jesse Spector writes, Wolski could be a potential buy out victim when the second round of buyouts comes around in a few weeks.

Boyle’s contract leaves the Rangers with a little more than $11 million in cap room to finalize deals with Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan, whose arbitration hearings are scheduled for the next two Thursdays, plus one more defenseman for the top six (Tim Erixon would cost $1.75 million if he makes the team) and maybe another blueliner for veteran depth.

This squeeze, as well as the fact that the Rangers will have 14 forwards under contract, would seem to heighten the chances of the second buyout window coming into play, 48 hours after the last settlement with a restricted free agent. The Blueshirts’ greatest chance to free up money would be with a buyout of Wojtek Wolski, whose cap hit of $3.8 million would go down to $466,667 for this season, and $666,667 for next season.

With Christensen and Anisimov as wingers and with Ruslan Fedotenko and Sean Avery already in the mix to get spots in the top three lines, having Wolski around making that much money and potentially playing on the fourth line doesn’t make much sense. As it is, the fourth line appears to be set with Boyle centering Brandon Prust and newly signed Mike Rupp. Keeping Wolski around as an expensive healthy scratch doesn’t make a world of sense either.

The saving graces for Wolski’s future in New York could be a couple of things. The Rangers will still have breathable room against the cap with him there and how the Rangers forward depth in their system isn’t very good. Having a guy with offensive skills like Wolski around would be beneficial, but as we’ve seen through the NHL money talks and for New York, Wolski might make too much to keep things sensible.

Yeah, we know, sensibility and the Rangers seems crazy but wonders never cease.

  1. icelovinbrotha215 - Jul 17, 2011 at 5:15 PM

    He may be. His best year, statistically, was his first full year. For how much he is making, it makes sense to let Wolly go. @ the age of 25, his career isn’t done though. He may just need to be on well-established team. Too bad he isn’t a center, the Flyers could use one.

  2. polegojim - Jul 17, 2011 at 7:29 PM

    Wojtek started strong and inexplicably lost his testosterone. I blame that on a very lame Avalanche coaching staff. He’s never recovered from it.

  3. bcjim - Jul 18, 2011 at 8:08 AM

    What with all the goons they signed recently, someone has to go I guess.

  4. logiciskey - Jul 18, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    Buying out Wojtek Wolski makes little sense for the Rangers. In this years’ scarce free-agent market, there are very few players that the Rangers could add to their roster that could impact the team more than a player from the Whale would. Remember that Wolski was a mid season acquisition last season, meaning he has not yet played a full season with the Blueshirts. It would be unfair to him out as a dud without giving him at least the first 20-30 games of the season to see how he meshes with Marian Gaborik and the teams new superstar center, Brad Richards. Wojtek Wolski has a lot of potential to grow, as we saw when he played for Colorado, and he is still only 25 years old. His $3.8 million dollar cap this season is afforedable for the Rangers, and he is on the last year of his contract. If Wolski ends up meshing well with the team this season, then there are always the options of trading him or demoting him. He will become an RFA next season as well, so he could also become part of a nice potential trade package. Keeping Wolski on the roster will not hurt the team, but buying him out will leave a nice void on the top line’s left wing which does not help the Rangers in their quest for the cup. The guy has potential, it’s only fair to give him a full season to prove it.

    • polegojim - Jul 18, 2011 at 8:32 PM

      I like Wojtek.. but ‘the guy’ has ‘had potential’….unrealized…. for several years.

      He NEEDS… a tough minded mentor to kick him squarely in the groin as a wake up call.

      Then, maybe he’ll live up to his ‘potential’.

      TAK…przyczyny i skutku… it pisses me off to see talent like Wojtek’s wasted behind weak coaching and even weaker team leadership. Colorado and New York are equally HIGHLY qualified in both departments. They make me sick… all that talent with NOTHING to show for it.

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