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Numbers Game: Coyotes Add Scoring Help

Scott Cullen
3/3/2010 2:46:57 PM
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There haven't been a lot of big names moved at the NHL Trade Deadline, but a swap of young wingers is among the most intriguing deals of the day.

Numbers Game looks at the Wolski-Mueller trade.

The Coyotes Get: LW Wojtek Wolski.

On his way to a career season, 24-year-old Wojtek Wolski has put up 17 goals, 47 points and a plus-15 rating in 62 games, but has just two goals and nine points in the last 20 games, so his pace has slowed after a strong start.

Going to Phoenix, where the Coyotes rank 25th in goals per game, Wolski may not get the same kind of opportunities he was getting with Paul Stastny as his centreman in Colorado so it's fair to question how much better Wolski's production will be in Phoenix.  Since the Coyotes weren't getting much of anything from Peter Mueller, Wolski will be an offensive upgrade in the short-term.

Wolski will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, and is likely due a raise through arbitration on his $2.8-million cap hit.

Whether Wolski becomes something more than the 50-point scorer that he's been to this point in his career -- and he is well on pace to exceed that this year -- he is a safer option in the top six forwards for the Coyotes.

The Avalanche Get: RW Peter Mueller and C Kevin Porter.

Mueller is just 21, but his game has collapsed since his 54-point rookie season just two years ago.

With only 17 points in 54 games this year, Mueller isn't doing anything offensively and he's not any kind of defensive presence, so the goals have to start counting for him to make an impact.

Earning $850,000 this season, Mueller will be a free agent in the summer and, given his production, a qualifying offer may be all that is needed to keep him in the fold for another season.

Given Mueller's natural talent -- he was the eighth overall pick in 2006 -- he could certainly become a 20-goal scorer if he finds the right chemistry, perhaps with Matt Duchene, in Colorado.

Porter, 23, was a Hobey Baker Award winner at the University of Michigan, but has not been able to make the jump to the NHL full-time since then, scoring 10 points in 38 NHL games, but he has 75 points in 94 career AHL games.  If he can sort out his play without the puck, Porter might get a shot with the Avalanche.  As a sidenote, he was college teammates with perennial Avs prospect T.J. Hensick.

In the final analysis, the Avalanche are doing some cost-cutting with a team that is still battling for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. 

However, since the Avs are exceeding virtually all expectations, they are effectively playing with house money and the move to get Mueller could have better upside in the long run.  If the Avs were willing to deal their first-line left winger in order to make that deal happen, Colorado isn't necessarily sold on the long-term benefits of having Wolski.  


Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@ctv.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen.




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