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As Rangers second buyout window approaches, Wojtek Wolski watch begins

Jul 27, 2011, 8:55 PM EDT

Wojtek Wolski Getty Images

When the Rangers got the deal done with Ryan Callahan this afternoon for three years and nearly $13 million, they were able to get their forward lines all squared away and under contract. With Callahan also being their last restricted free agent to be signed, it also means that their second buyout period is set to begin at midnight.

With the Rangers being at just over $700,000 under the salary cap, the Rangers might be seeking out a little extra room under the cap. With the Rangers having a few extra forwards under contract and only 12 spots for starters, there are a few guys that could be getting a long look in regard to their salary cap hits. The main guy that could find himself on the chopping block is Wojtek Wolski.

With Wolski coming with a $3.8 million cap hit this season, buying him out would give the Rangers a nice cushion of cap space. As Andrew Gross from Rangers Rants tells us, however, don’t expect the Rangers to be too busy over the next 48 hours during their final shot at buyouts.

But not only is there no buyout of Wolski coming over the next couple of days, it’s almost a near certainty he will not be traded between now and the start of training.

The trick may come if the Rangers want to start the season with both Tim Erixon ($1.75 million) and Michael Del Zotto ($1.09 million) on their roster. They have approximately $700,000 left in cap space including Erixon as one of the six defensemen on the roster but not including Del Zotto. However, it also includes center Erik Christensen ($925,000) who may find himself squeezed from a roster spot now that the team has signed Brad Richards. The Rangers currently have 14 forwards, including Mats Zuccarello ($1.75 million) and could opt to carry just 13.

It’s a curious plan for the Rangers, but dancing near the cap is nothing new for competing teams. We saw the Devils handle things rather poorly last season while trying to balance how to handle having Ilya Kovalchuk‘s deal as well as other bloated contracts on the roster to go with it. The Rangers do have enough flexibility with their contracts that they can get away with some lineup juggling if need be, but if minor injuries pile up and players can’t be placed on long term injured reserve, trouble managing the cap could arise.

The Rangers are better off having that offensive depth and while the addition of Brad Richards will help perk up their offense, they’ll need more goals from all their lines to win. Keeping Wolski as well as Erik Christensen and others who could be cap casualties is key for New York since they don’t have the minor league depth to help support them offensively if things go wrong. Losing Wolski could help the Rangers financially, but he’ll be able to give some help scoring and who knows… Perhaps playing in the final year of his contract will help motivate him to play focused regularly.

  1. stakex - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    Wolski is not worth $4 million a year, period… and if the Ragners could get rid of him, they should. A buyout would only cost them about $500,000 dead cap space for the next couple years which isn’t bad, and would free up over $3 million. Sounds like win win to me, not to mention it helps clear the jam of forwards the Rangers have.

    When you need to dump a couple forwards, you get rid of the under performer with the big contract… and right now thats Wolski.

  2. polegojim - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    I’d take him in Detroit, his potential is excellent – but not for 4mil. Wojtek needs a couple strong slaps upside the head from a strong mentor. STOP BEING A FOLLOWER Wojtek – you can be better than that. You appear to be floating on ice waiting for something to happen.

    Tortorella has done very well for the Rangers in a short time – turned them around quickly after taking over in 08-09. Good head for player personnel

    • stakex - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:10 PM

      As a Rangers fan I disagree that Torts has “turned them around” since 08-09. The numbers speak for themself… the Rangers have been a worse team since Renny was sent packing.

      Look at the Numbers:
      (First three years are under Renny)
      05-06 – 100pts, 3rd in the Atlantic, Lost in Quarterfinals
      06-06 – 94pts, 3rd in the Atlantic, Lost in the Semi-Finals
      07-08 – 97pts, 3rd in the Atlantic, Lost in the Semi-Finals
      08-09 – 95pts, 4th in the Atlantic, Lost in the Quarterfinals (Torts takes over halfway through the season)
      09-10 – 87pts, 4th in the Atlantic, Did not make the playoffs
      10-11 – 93pts, 3rd in the Atlantic (8th in the east), Lost in the Quarterfinals

      As you can see, the numbers under Torts are no better then Renny, in fact there worse… including missing the playoffs last year. On the other hand Renny came in, and made the playoffs three years in a row with a team that haden’t made the playoffs in SEVEN years. Renny turned the Rangers around, and Torts is just keeping them limping forward.

      With that said, Torts does in fact have to deal with Glenn Sathers horrible roster management. However, so did Renny…

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