It’s Just Business…?

-By AJ Pacheco

   The NHL trade deadline has come and gone and the Avalanche were among the teams active on a busy Wednesday. The Avalanche made two adjustments to their roster. In one move, the Avs brought back Stephane Yelle and it’s NOT for an Avalanche Alumni Night. Yelle played his first 7 NHL seasons with the Avalanche and won two Stanley Cups before being shipped off in 2003 in the infamous Chris Drury trade to Calgary. Despite his age and mileage, he should be very useful on the 3rd or 4th lines and on the penalty kill. He will also provide another veteran presence in the locker room during the Avs’ stretch run.

In perhaps the biggest move of the day the Avalanche traded Wojtek Wolski to Phoenix for forward Peter Mueller and prospect Kevin Porter. Wolski’s name started to appear in trade rumors yesterday (surprisingly) and a couple hours before the deadline he was sent packing to a team the Avalanche will face on Thursday night. Wolski certainly has a reputation for slacking off and not playing up to his potential but he has 47 points this season, 3 short of a career high. In fact, Wolski joins the Coyotes tied with Shane Doan as the team leader in points. Peter Mueller, who is set to make his Avs debut tonight, scored 54 points his rookie season but only has 17 points this season, including only 4 goals. So basically the Avalanche traded Wolski away for a younger, similarly inconsistent player. It’s nowhere near the kind of return someone would have hoped for from a player like Wolski. Maybe Mueller will fit in better with the faster, more youthful Avs, who knows?

 So what was the motive behind this move? Did Avs management get tired of the declining effort from Wolski? Trade rumors surrounding Wolski came about very suddenly. There had been rumors around Svatos, Liles, and Salei for a while but all of them remain on the team. Perhaps Monday night’s game against the Red Wings was the final straw for the team and they decided to trade one struggling first round pick for another. But then again, maybe it’s just business. Wolski is in the last year of his contract and he makes $3.1 million. After a career season, which he is likely to have, he would likely be due for a decent raise. Wolski could be nothing more than a salary cap victim and his relocation nothing more than a cost cutting move for the currently frugal Avalanche. The Avalanche front office is sticking to their guns when it comes to keeping costs low and it’s possible they didn’t feel like Wolski was worth the longterm investment. At any rate, Wolski has become no more a victim than Chris Drury, Alex Tanguay, and even Peter Forsberg were in the past. The NHL is a business and in the new NHL it is a tough business, given the amount of money each team is allotted to spend. As frustrating as he is to watch at times, Wolski has shown flashes of greatness and for whatever reason the Avalanche have chosen to go in another direction. 

So, farewell and good luck to you, Wojtek Wolski nothing personal...(Hopefully).


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