When Wojtek Wolski signed with the Washington Capitals in the summer of 2012, it was his fifth NHL team and perhaps the final chance for a first-round pick whose stock had plummeted. On a one-year, $600,000 deal, Wolski knew how important the upcoming season was.
“Definitely I’m at a point in my career where I’m at a crossroads, and I’ve got to make it work,” he said last July. “I think I’m ready and able and it’s going to be a great year.”
It wasn’t, and on Monday Wolski signed with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod of the Kontinental Hockey League, the team announced. In going to Russia, Wolski may have ended his NHL career at the age of 27, stuck on 99 career goals.
It wasn’t for lack of trying by coach Adam Oates and the Caps in 2013. Wolski saw some time on the first line and got chances to prove he’s a top-six forward.
By the middle of the year, Wolski was a regular in the press box as a healthy scratch. He finished with four goals and five assists in 27 games, passed on the depth chart by enforcer Aaron Volpatti, who was claimed off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks in late February.
Wolski was the 21st overall pick of the Colorado Avalanche in 2004 and put up a career-high 65 points in 2009-10 split between Colorado and the Phoenix Coyotes. Injuries and inconsistent play kept him from getting back to that point.
Oates made it clear early in the season when Wolski went through a goal-scoring drought that he was more concerned with his all-around play than production. When Wolski was unable to provide any of that, he was made a healthy scratch for 18 of the Caps’ final 23 regular-season games and the entire playoff series against the New York Rangers.