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Could the Leafs have plucked Wolski from the Coyotes?

I guess it’s always been this way, but things sure change quickly these days in the NHL.

It wasn’t long ago (I obviously don’t follow the Rangers closely enough) that young Michael Del Zotto was playing big minutes and turning NHL heads as a 19 year-old rookie defenseman with New York.  Now he’s apparently in the AHL, and the Rangers evidently have enough other talented young d-men that they can send a veteran, Michal Rozsival, to Phoenix to acquire 24 year-old Wojtek Wolski.

And this stuns me, too.  I was shocked when the Avs, who I thought needed offense last season, sent Wolski to the Coyotes in the first place about ten months ago—albeit for another promising, but seemingly less proven, young player.

Now, Wolski, the former OHL scoring star, is moving again.

Clearly I’m missing something here.  Maybe Wolski doesn’t fit Dave Tippett’s coaching style?  Whatever, this is a young, talented guy who can score goals at the NHL level.  (That said, he has a grand total of 6 so far this season—though he did score 23 with 65 points overall last season.)

The cost?  Rozsival, at 32 an experienced, generally steady (Francois Beauchemin type?) defenseman. (And the Rangers get a cap break, too.)

I’m not a fan, at all, of what Sather has done in his long tenure with the Rangers as General Manager.  Pre-lockout, he spent tons of money and generated nothing in terms of success.  Since the lockout, it’s been more of the same.  (This is why you shouldn’t put a guy in the Hall-of-Fame too soon…) But I wonder if he stole one here.

Sometimes trades get made between two teams who moved quickly to get things done. Why, I’m not sure.  Maybe they don’t want to deal with leaks and/or rumors that could mess up a potential deal.  (Did the Isles shop Wisniewski, for example, before dealing him to the Habs? Was that the very best deal they could get?)  Other times, players are “in play”, it seems, and the GM dealing a guy makes it known a player is available to the highest bidder, as it were.

In this case, I wonder if the Leafs even had a shot at Wolski.  If so, were they not interested?  If they did have a chance, did they not offer enough?

Given that the Leafs desperately need consistent scoring and top-six players in terms of talent level, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher that Toronto would not have, given their place in the Eastern Conference and their relative depth (in numbers, at least) on defense, made a better offer than New York—unless Wolski doesn’t fit  the kind of player Toronto wants.  I realize he’s not a ‘danger-zone’ guy, more of a playmaker/sniper.  But surely the team is looking for a balance between toughness and skill?

And, given the fact that they are building with young guys, and will want guys who will still be in their prime when they become a contender, it just seems that this is the kind of player you take a shot at.

It can’t be that the 9-goal outburst the other night turned Burke’s head.  He’s too sharp for that.

There has to be a reason.

Your thoughts?


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