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.”