Well, the ax has fallen. The Wojtek Wolski era with the Phoenix Coyotes has come to a close.
Earlier today, the Phoenix Coyotes shipped the under-performing Wolski to the New York Rangers for defenseman Michal Rozsival.
Following his trade from the Colorado Avalanche at the trade deadline last season where he scored 18 points in 18 games (6-12), to today’s events, Wolski has been on a slow downward spiral with his overall game.
After attending a practice last week with Wolski playing 3-on-3 same zone hockey with teammates, one had to wonder if this was a last ditch attempt for Wolski to show Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett his love for the game of hockey.
The Coyotes gave Wolski every opportunity to succeed but for whatever reason, he simply did not respond. His tripping penalty at the 6:26 mark of the second period of the Coyotes 2-1 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres may have not been the last straw for Wolski. However, Jordan Leopold’s goal on the esuing power play goal sure seemed to be the beginning of the end.
In return, the Coyotes get much needed depth and veteran experience on the blue line in Rozsival.
“I know Michal well from my time with the Rangers in New York,” said Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney. “He is an intelligent, puck moving defenseman who can play heavy minutes against good players. He will make our strong defense even better.”
According to the Coyotes Press release, “Rozsival, 32, has recorded 3-12-15 and 22 penalty minutes (PIM) in 32 games this season for the Rangers. He was third on the team in average ice time (22:02).
The 6-foot-2, 212-pound Rozsival finished the 2009-10 season ranked second among team defensemen in assists (20), blocked shots (130) and also ranked second with a plus-six rating on the road, and third in average ice time (21:26).”
Rangers General Manager Glen Sather had very positive comments about Rozsival during a conference call with reporters earlier today.
“We have nothing but good things to say about him. I thought he was treated unfairly every once in a while.” Sather continued “He was a guy who’s the ultimate professional (he) never complained. We liked him a lot. He’s a great person.”
What the Coyotes get out of the deal
On paper, the Coyotes get much needed veteran depth for their defensive corps.
“He’s a good player, he’s durable, he works hard, he played through a lot of pain in his career,” said Sather during his conference call.
When looking back at the stats sheet of Coyotes games this season, Tippett has been leaning on the top four defensive corps too much. As a result the defensive corps have been showing signs of losing their effectiveness across the board.
As previously stated, Rozsival gives the current Coyotes top four defensemen veteran help, experience and depth. To find a defenseman of this caliber isn’t an easy thing to do. This more than likely means that one of Sami Lepisto or David Schlemko are not going to be on the Coyotes roster much longer. Even though the Coyotes have the room I doubt they’re going to carry eight defensemen for too long.
What the Rangers get out of the deal
In addition to cap relief, the Rangers get the project player of all project players in Wolski. His upside is tremendous but for whatever reason he’s just didn’t click with the Coyotes. The Rangers look at this deal as a ‘glass half full’ opportunity.
“The opportunity to do something here with a 24 year old guy (Wolski) has been an obvious goal scorer and a pretty high talent.” said Sather. “We thought it was too good of an opportunity to turn down.”
Sather wasn’t deterred either by Wolski’s lack of production with the Coyotes and the Avalanche.
“When players grow up, they learn a new system, sometimes the chemistry gels better in another place.” Sather stated. “Every trade is a bit of a hit and miss but you have to have the opportunity to give them the chance to succeed and we’re gonna give this guy the opportunity.”
Who wins this deal?
On paper, it’s a draw. Both teams got what they needed in the deal. The Rangers get a potentially lethal scoring forward along with salary cap relief. The Coyotes get additional depth on a defensive corps that lacked depth. But right now, it’s too early to say who wins this deal.