Per the Pittsburgh Penguins' official twitter feed, the New York Rangers have sent forward Chad Kolarik to the Pittsburgh Penguins in return for forward Benn Ferriero. The 26 year old Kolarik was acquired in 2011 from the Blue Jackets. He had one assist in six NHL games with the Rangers. Ferriero had spent the first three years of his career with the San Jose Sharks before signing with the Penguins this past offseason.
It's a curious move for sure. Kolarik had 31 points in 36 games with the Connecticut Whale this season and was named as an AHL All-Star. And he seemed destined for a call-up at some point this season. Perhaps Kolarik requested a trade. Perhaps he got into a fight with Jeff Beukeboom yesterday. Something to that effect would make the reasoning behind this trade clear. But let's pretend that's not the case; or even if it is, let's rationalize how this move logistically makes sense or might make a difference for the Rangers.
Why move him now; at a time where he is producing for the Whale? Kolarik has offensive skill for sure but fits the mold of guys like Mats Zuccarello, Erik Christensen, and Marcel Hossa in that he likely does not have enough offensive skill to warrant a consistent top-six spot and he doesn't bring enough physically or defensively to make him a good fit for a bottom-six spot. And at 26, he doesn't exactly have a large developmental curve. Could he match the likes of P.A. Parenteau? Sure it's a possibility, but the Rangers are not in a place to test that out and experiment.
Tortorella made it evident that Kreider might end up back in the AHL for some time, and the three minutes of icetime last night tells you all you need to know about how confident he is in Stu Bickel as a winger. The Rangers lack AHL substitutes for a depth forward role; JT Miller and Christian Thomas are not ready for the NHL right now and certainly should not be taken away from the AHL to serve fourth line minutes. Benn Ferriero, on the other hand, is a guy who makes sense. He does not have the offensive potential of Chad Kolarik, but he does has 12 goals in his last 68 NHL games. And perhaps more relavent here is that he is a gritty, hardworking player; the kind of guy who IS suited for fourth line duties.
Again, perhaps there were other unavoidable reasons for this trade, whether it be Kolarik's request or something else. But from a tactical and personnel standpoint there is logic behind the move. We're sacrificing legitimate offensive potential in Chad Kolarik in order to fill a more immediate need. I don't think anybody is happy with Stu Bickel getting forward duties and if Kreider is indeed sent down then somebody is going to have to fill in. Ferriero makes more sense getting spot duty on the third or fourth line than Kolarik does at this point in time.
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