The New York Rangers are already making moves before the Feb. 27 deadline and have announced the trade of Erik Christensen and a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2013 draft to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for forward Casey Wellman, who has recorded two goals and five assists in 12 games this season.
Wellman will report to the Rangers' AHL affiliate, the Connecticut Whale.
Christensen was recently sent down to the Whale for a two-week conditioning stint. He returned to the Rangers lineup, but remained a healthy scratch.
Christensen is best known for his skills in shootouts, scoring 24 times on 46 career attempts (52.2 percent). Only eight NHL players have more shootout goals than Christensen, according to ProHockeyTalk.
Forward Wojtek Wolski, another consistent healthy scratch since returning from sports-hernia surgery in mid-December, was also sent down to the AHL for a two-week conditioning stint.
Defenseman Jeff Woywitka, who has been battling a sore foot from a blocked shot in early January, will follow Wolski for the same AHL conditioning agreement. Woywitka hasn't played since Dec. 17.
“It’s the best thing for them," Rangers head coach John Tortorella said, speaking with 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.”
With Wolski and Woywitka now in Connecticut, the Rangers have just cleared over $5 million in cap space.
Mark all of this recent activity in the Rangers roster as a precursor to a much larger deal likely in the works. With cap space now available—albeit temporarily—the Rangers are poised to make a bold move in the trade market.
Don't be surprised if Woywitka and Wolski never return.