Wojtek Wolski has been traded to the Phoenix Coyotes for forwards Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter. Wolski has been rumored to be on the blog, mostly because his projected contract numbers over the next couple of years. He's having a great season scoring-wise, but the perception - in Denver at least - is that his play hasn't quite been on par with his points.
In Peter Mueller, the Avalanche get a player who sounds a bit like...Wojtek Wolski. Mueller is a big guy but not particularly physical. He was a 1st round pick in 2006, 10 spots ahead of Chris Stewart. Mueller scored 54 points in his rookie year but he's slipped since then - 36 last year and just 17 to date this year. He has a $1.7 million cap hit this year, but those numbers include his entry-level signing bonus. Like Wolski, he is an RFA this summer, but he will make significantly less - his qualifying offer will be $850,000. There are questions about his speed and his desire, but he has talent. Obviously, the Avalanche feel Mueller will benefit from a change of scenery. He's still just 21, so that's not out of the realm of possibility.
Porter is a former 4th round pick who won the Hobey Baker award at Michigan (where he was the team captain). He's reportedly a versatile young forward, capable of playing at all 3 positions and on the PK. He would appear to fit in perfectly with the Avs' team concept - better than Mueller, even. He has spent most of this season in the AHL, where he has 40 points in 52 games with the San Antonio Rampage. His cap hit is $954,000. He, too, is an RFA this summer. His QO will be $875,000, so the Avalanche are clearing some significant cap space both this year and over the next few years with this move.
I figured Wolski was going to be on the move. I'm sorry to see him go - I've always been a big fan - but I do feel it was time to make a change. I don't know a ton about Mueller and Porter, but my initial reaction is that I would have liked to see the Avalanche get a bit better return. Wolski is the best player in this deal now and it will take a big turnaround to change that status down the road. Amazingly, the Avalanche get even younger with this deal and shed some cap space - neither of those were hugely important, though. Mueller and Porter are both intriguing players, and this can become a solid deal for the Avs if either - or both - blossom under Joe Sacco as so many other youngsters have done.