The New York Rangers have dealt with injury issues all season. And with both Marc Staal and Michael Sauer out for extended periods of time this season it was easy to forget that Wojtek Wolski was also on the shelf. Woski -- was was penciled in on the first line during preseason -- has played just six games this year, registering two assists.
The Rangers' offense, lead by a rejuvinated Marian Gaborik, points from the blue line, Ryan Callahan and the addition of Brad Richards, hasn't suffered much without him.
Tonight, however, they might get a chance to see what life is like with him in the lineup again. According to Andrew Gross, John Tortorella will use Wolski in place of Brandon Dubinsky (sore) if he can't play against the Ottawa Senators.
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Meanwhile, a conditioning assignment has also been discussed with Wojtek Wolski - who is currently discussing that option with his advisers - but the Rangers need Wolski to stick around at least through tomorrow. Brandon Dubinsky did not practice today as coach John Tortorella said he was "sore" and would be a "game-time decision" for tomorrow night's game against the Senators. Dubinsky took a hard hit from the Coyotes' Taylor Pyatt late in the first period of Tuesday's 2-1 shootout victory but was able to play the rest of the game.
The Rangers have probably been itching to get Wolski into some games, if for no other reason then to showcase him for a trade. It's highly unlikely, especially with the team's success so far this season, that Tortorella feels he needs Wolski in the lineup.
Yes, Wolski brings more offense to the table than the entire bottom half of the roster, but the defense and forechecking from players like Brandon Prust, Ruslan Fedotenko and Brian Boyle is too valuable to this team's identity. Personally, I see no reason why Wolski can't be a "reserve forward" who cycles in and out of the lineup on a daily basis to give guys like Prust, Boyle, Fedotenko and John Mitchell a rest.
His cap hit, however, is an issue, and not something the Rangers need on the cap if they see an opportunity to make a move this trade deadline -- Bobby Ryan anyone?
In the end, if Dubinsky ends up not playing tomorrow, Wolski will have an opportunity to show that he belongs. Although it should be noted that Tortorella is still considering a conditioning assignment for Wolski like the one Erik Christensen has taken.
Either way, the Rangers become a stronger team with him in the lineup. Whether or not he stays there depends on him.