The New York Rangers have acquired forward Casey Wellman from the Minnesota Wild and have sent center Erik Christensen as well as a 7th round pick in return. Casey Wellman was an undrafted free agent signing by the Wild from the University of Massachusetts in 2010. He scored a goal in his first game with the Wild. Erik Christensen was in his 3rd year as a Ranger and has 5 points in 20 games played this season. Keep reading to see a more in-depth look at this trade and see why it makes sense for the Rangers.
First off, let me say this about Erik Christensen. I have probably not been harder on any player but by all accounts he is a great guy who did everything that was asked of him. I wish him nothing but the best with Minnesota and I’m happy that he gets another opportunity in the NHL.
That being said, he definitely wore out his welcome here in New York and it became obvious that he wasn’t going to remain on the roster one way or another. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had requested the move but either way I don’t think Sather was exactly hesitant to move him.
As for Casey Wellman, the Rangers honestly aren’t acquiring that different of a player. Like Christensen, Wellman is an inconsistent offensive presence who is only useful in a top-six role. Though he is a hard worker, at 6’0 and 186 pounds (a generous measure) he struggles to compete physically with NHL players.
But Wellman does come with some advantages over Christensen. For starters, there’s the fact that he’s only 24 to Christensen’s 28 and likely has a bit more fire to prove something, whereas Christensen has been doing the journeyman thing for a while now. The youth might suggest that there is more to come from Wellman, especially since he was signed out of college only a few years ago and thus has limited pro experience. Minnesota’s system might be the complete opposite of New York’s so perhaps simply moving to Tortorella’s system might help him out. There’s also the added versatility of Wellman, who can play all three forward positions. What gives me any real hope for Wellman here is that speed is his best asset. Christensen has Wellman beat in terms of shooting ability and puck handling, but Wellman has excellent speed along with offensive instincts. Carl Hagelin showed us what speed alone can do for he Rangers and how useful it is in Tortorella’s open, forechecking system. Let’s see if maybe Wellman can similarly bring that aspect of his game to the team.
Overall, it’s a good change of scenery move for both teams as well as both players. In both cases the teams had more or less given up on the players’ potential use and in both cases the players likely welcomed a change.