When the Rangers announced that they had traded Michal Rozsival to the Phoenix Coyotes for Wojtek Wolski, the move was met with shock and awe.
In a good way.
It’s not often that you can trade a 32-year-old defenseman for a 24-year-old talent, who still has one more year left on his contract after this season. The Rangers also save $1.2 million in cap space, with Wolski’s $3.8 million cap hit being less than Rozsival’s $5 million hit.
Here’s the catch though, Rozsival’s salary is only $3 million. For those of you who are confused, and who can blame you, let me explain. Rozsival’s contract (signed in 2008) was a four-year $20 million deal. But the deal paid him $7 million his first two years, and then four and three million the next two respectively. Thus the Coyotes, who are obviously not in the greatest financial situation, can get a quality player and pay him less than his cap hit.
That’s one of the main reasons why Rozsival was so appealing to Phoenix, aside from the fact that they got a defenseman to shore up their blue line.
Now, on to Wolski.
Wolski is 24 years old and has a wealth of offensive talent. While he might be young, he is certainly not inexperience. Wolski has been a regular in the NHL since 2006 (when he was just 19 years old) and has already played in 356 NHL games. He’s also been a healthy player, never playing in less than 76 games in a full season.
In those 356 career games he has scored 85 goals and 142 assists for 227 points. He’s never had less then 42 points in a season, and last year he had his best statistical year scoring 23 goals and 42 assists for 65 points in 80 games.
Wolski also has significant playoff experience for a 24-year-old, scoring 14 points in 22 playoff contests.
Currently, he’s not having a great year. Wolski only has six goals and 10 assists for 16 points in 36 games, and recently he has been in the Coyote doghouse. There is a thought process that Wolski will thrive under the offensive mind and system of John Tortorella.
Wolski instantly becomes the Rangers second biggest scoring threat, behind Marian Gaborik. Wolski has been great on the power play in his career as well with 17 goals and 37 assists for 54 power play points in his career.
Now onto what the Rozsival removal means for the Rangers. Obviously the Rangers brass is very high on Ryan McDonagh, otherwise they wouldn’t be removing one of the steady pillars of the Rangers defense.
With that said, Rozsival has seen his play declining steadily since his hot start to the season. That makes the trade even more impressive for Glen Sather.
It will also be interesting to see if Michael Del Zotto, who has two assists in three AHL games and is an +1, will be called up as well. But with Matt Gilroy playing as well as he is, there is some doubt.
In the end, it’s a win-win deal for the Rangers, who somehow shipped off age for youth and some salary relief.