In Mike Ribeiro, Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee wanted to add more “skill” to his lineup. He added even more of that Wednesday in the form of Wojtek Wolski.
The Caps signed Wolski, a left wing, to a one-year deal worth $600,000. It’s good value as a top-six forward option if Wolski plays up to his potential.
“I definitely think I can help on the offensive side,” Wolski said on a conference call with reporters. “I struggled the last two years. I’m definitely highly motivated, very excited and very hungry at this point in time and I look forward to the opportunity to be able to play with great players. I think it’s going to be a very positive year.”
Last season he was not much of a wanted man, traded from the New York Rangers to the Florida Panthers just before the deadline as something of a salary dump. Wolski had been working under a contract that paid him $7.6 million over two years. This will be his lowest salary in eight NHL seasons.
But Wolski was told he’d be a top-six forward.
“It’s definitely in that role. There’s already so many great players in those top two lines,” he said. “I’d like to help fill another spot in that area. I think we’re going to have a lot of success.”
Wolski, 26, put up four goals and eight assists in 31 games in 2011-12. He had a career-high 65 points in 2009-10, split between the Phoenix Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche. He’s something of a shootout specialist as well, something the Caps have piled up with Ribeiro and Matt Hendricks, who roomed with Wolski in Colorado.
A first-round pick, 21st overall, in 2004, Wolski has a natural scoring touch but has struggled to find it consistently in recent years. The 6-foot-3, 216-pound wing was born in Poland and grew up in Toronto.
Wolski cited new coach Adam Oates as a reason he signed in Washington.
“I think the team is offensively minded, I think there’s a lot of very creative players. I think with the addition of Adam Oates as a coach is going to be good for everyone,” he said. “I think there’s a lot to learn from him. He was so gifted as a player that he can definitely teach you little things that you may not be able to learn from any other coach.”