The New York Rangers continued to tinker with their lineup on Friday, announcing that forward Wojtek Wolski and defenseman Jeff Woywitka accepted two-week conditioning stints with New York’s AHL affiliate in Connecticut.
“It’s the best thing for them,” Rangers head coach John Tortorella told BlueShirts United. “Because if they do get an opportunity, or if we sit to make a change, or if there is an injury—you can bag skate them until the cows come home, it doesn’t help them—they need to play.
“We had to get their permission, and it was seamless. They wanted to go do it, and that’s a good sign.”
Taking Tortorella’s comments at face value, the demotions make sense. Wolski’s barely played this year while recovering from sports hernia surgery and Woywitka has been the odd man out on defense since Marc Staal returned from injury and the team signed Anton Stralman (Woywitka hasn’t played since Dec. 17.)
Both need minutes, and they’ll get them with the Whale.
That said…the moves are awfully curious. After shipping Erik Christensen to Minnesota in exchange for Casey Wellman (who was immediately assigned to Connecticut) and demoting Wolski and Woywitka, the Rangers cleared over $5 million in cap space off the active roster in a 24-hour span.
Now yes, Wolski and Woywitka are only temporary relief — again, the conditioning stints are of the two-week variety — but it does make you wonder if Glen Sather has put them in the AHL for showcasing purposes (or at the very least, the chance to show they’re able to play.)
What both players have going for them is their contracts expire at season’s end, so they’re decent trade assets in terms of “getting money off the books.”
After establishing himself in the Swedish league, Anton Lindholm will head to North America.
The Colorado Avalanche announced that they have signed the 21-year-old defenseman to a three-year, entry-level contract. They selected Lindholm in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
More of a defensive defenseman, Lindholm only registered four assists in 30 Swedish league games with Skelleftea AIK in 2015-16, but he also had a team-high 85 hits despite missing a chunk of the season due to injury. During the playoffs he helped his team reach the SHL Finals by leading them in both hits and blocked shots.
That was his second full campaign with Skelleftea AIK. The next step for Lindholm will likely be for him to continue his development in the AHL.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Bob McKenzie shares his memories of Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie, who apparently was a big hockey fan. (TSN)
Don Cherry discusses John Brophy’s toughness after the former Leafs coach recently passed away. (Sportsnet)
A look at Vincent Lecavalier‘s career. (Greatest Hockey Legends)
The perils of flip-flopping goalies in the playoffs … although it worked out for the Penguins at least last night. (The Hockey News)
Speaking of which, will the Blues get burned for switching back to Brian Elliott in Game 6 tonight? Here’s a preview:
Sidney Crosby has a chance to join a very rare club of clutch goal-scorers if he can win it for Pittsburgh in Game 7:
Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.
(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)
Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:
Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”
“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”
Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.
Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.
The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.
It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.
Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.
Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.
Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.
Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.
Read more about Game 6 here.