When the Rangers traded Erik Christensen yesterday, they dumped a spare forward for some much needed AHL help in Casey Wellman. The Rangers had 14 forwards on the roster, including Wojtek Wolski, who had just been shipped to Connecticut on a two week conditioning stint due to lack of playing time. When Wolski returns, he returns as the 13th forward, not the 14th forward.
Most NHL teams carry a spare forward for two reasons. The first is the most obvious: a spare body in case of injury. The second is to stir competition and force players to come to play game in and game out. It is John Tortorella’s style to keep a spare player around.
That spare player right now is Wolski, whether we like it or not. Wolski’s $3.8 million cap hit is not that appealing to many teams, but team control for his next contract might be –Wolski is a RFA.
For the next two weeks, Wolski will be playing with the CT Whale in what is likely an audition for a trade or a future NHL job. But with Christensen gone, the Rangers are less likely to just dump Wolski like they did with Christensen. Wolski fits the “spare forward” role well, meaning that he is not a prospect that the Rangers need to groom and he is not someone who appears to be a key cog in the immediate future of the organization.
Maybe Wolski should be calling Christensen and thanking him, because with Christensen gone, Wolski has that roster spot as the spare forward. For now.