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Monday, February 27, 2012

Rangers Trade Wolski to the Panthers — Who Got the Best Deal?

On Saturday the Panthers obtained Wojtek Wolski from the New York Rangers in exchange for their 3rd Round pick in the 2013 draft and also minor-league defenseman Mike Vernace.

Wolski is a 6' 3" 215 pound left-winger and is definitely an NHL-caliber player, although the Rangers only used him in nine games this season. He is 26 years old and played in the OHL before beginning his NHL career with the Colorado Avalanche in the 2005-2006 season; although, he only played nine games before being sent back to the OHL. The following year he was with the Avalanche and played four straight seasons and compiled excellent stats each year, with his best performance being in 2009-2010 when he had 47 points in 62 games and was +15. He was then traded to Phoenix and played for parts of two seasons before being acquired by the Rangers in January of 2011. Last year for the Rangers he accumulated 19 points in 37 games. Wolski is making 3.8 million this year and will be a restricted free agent this summer. If he plays well for the Panthers I am sure that he will sign a new contract with them before he is actually a free agent. In fact, he already scored one goal in his first game with the Panthers on Saturday (they won), although he was held pointless in their game on Sunday (in which they also won). Due to losing four games in a row, the Panthers had lost possession of their lead in the Southeast Division and along with that third spot in the Eastern Conference; however, since Wolski has arrived they have won two in a row and regained the Division lead (over the Jets) and their third-ranked playoff spot. The Capitals are actually a bigger threat to the Panthers as compared to the Jets and it is going to be interesting to see how the three-way battle unfolds. The Caps are favored of course. 

Who got the best deal in this trade?

I think it is obvious that Dale Tallon, VP and GM of the Panthers, easily came out on top in this trade because all that he had to surrender to get Wolski was a 3rd Round draft pick and a minor-league defenseman. Wolski will continue to help the Panthers reach their playoff goal and he should improve once he gets settled.  It is surprising that Ranger coach John Tortorella did not utilize Wolski much this year because I really don’t see the Rangers as a team with that much depth—contrary to Tortorella who claimed that they could not fit Wolski into the line-up. Everybody knows that Lundqvist is the biggest reason the Rangers are leading the Eastern Conference. I think that Glen Sather, President and GM of the Rangers, just wanted to get rid of Wolski’s salary and to receive something in return. If some Ranger players are injured before or during the playoffs then he is definitely going to regret the trade—big time!   

One last note, Tallon has done well for the Panthers in the last two years, but it makes it a lot easier when unrestricted free agents want to live in Florida.

TJ Stanley