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Wild acquires Christensen from Rangers for Casey Wellman

  • Blog Post by: Michael Russo
  • February 3, 2012 - 12:35 PM

I was talking to somebody high up in the Wild yesterday and he made clear the Wild will not trade away its top prospects before the trade deadline.

He said, "Now that's not to say we won't trade some prospects or picks."

I immediately thought to myself guys like Casey Wellman can be had.

He could. Wellman has been traded to the New York Rangers for Erik Christensen and a conditional 2013 seventh round pick. If the Wild re-signs Christensen, it doesn't get the puck. If he leaves as a free agent, it gets the seventh.

From the Jan. 19 paper: The Rangers are offering Wojtek Wolski and Erik Christensen to the Wild.

From Jan. 16 blog: Some guys available? Maybe the Rangers' Wojtek Wolski, who has been a healthy scratch lately, and Erik Christensen, who hasn't played since Dec. 17 and then basically asked to be sent to the minors on a conditioning stint so he could play. Fletcher does have a history with him from Pittsburgh, but, man, that'd be just adding a body in my opinion.

OK, that should get me off to a good start with Christensen. He is a shootout stud, and the Wild's not a studly shootout team.

"I'm very excited for a fresh start," Christensen said. "It's been a trying year and to go to a place where Mike Yeo and Chuck Fletcher know me, it's really excited. I can't wait to find my game again because I haven't played an NHL game since Dec. 17."

Christensen played with Kyle Brodziak in Wilkes-Barre, Josh Harding in Brandon and skates all summer in Edmonton with Brodziak and Matt Kassian.

Wellman was the Wild's first big college free-agent pickup out of UMass. Remember, that was when the Wild literally had NONE of its top prospects. He fell down the depth chart bigtime.

Christensen, who has a 6:15 flight tonight en route to Dallas, will make his Wild debut on Saturday, wearing No. 26. He'll center the third line with Darroll Powe and Carson McMillan. Warren Peters will go to the fourth line with Kassian and Jed Ortmeyer.

Chad Rau has been reassigned.

Christensen, 28, has five points in 20 games for the Rangers this season, and three points in five games for the Whale. He posted 27 points (11-16=27) in 63 games for the Rangers last season. Christensen totaled a career-high 33 points (18-15=33) in 61 games for Pittsburgh in 2006-07. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound native of Edmonton, Alberta, has collected 156 points (62-94=156) and 156 penalty minutes (PIM) in 358 career NHL games during seven seasons with Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Anaheim and the Rangers. He was originally selected by Pittsburgh in the third round (No. 69 overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

He ranks ninth all-time with 24 shootout goals -- two behind Mikko Koivu and four behind leader Jussi Jokinen.

Coach Mike Yeo had Christensen in both Wilkes-Barre and Pittsburgh: "I'm excited. He's a quality NHL player. He's got elite skill. That's one thing for sure. His hands, his passing ability, his vision, his shot, he's versatile, good power-play guy, can win faceoffs and good on shootouts."

Wellman, 24 (10/18/87), has seven points (2-5=7) in 14 games with the Wild this season, and 24 points (13-11=24) in 25 games for Houston.

The Wild's without Guillaume Latendresse and Pierre-Marc Bouchard and littered with minor-leaguers. Christensen has NHL experience. Fletcher said he has to assume the worst right now with Latendresse and Bouchard and that they won't be back. He said that's not definite, but there's no road map and he can't as a manager keep waiting.

"We hope for the best, but we have to plan for the worst. That's a big reason behind this move," Fletcher said.

He said what Christensen does well, it needs -- faceoffs, center play, PP, shootout ability because "this could come down to one or two points."

Wellman obviously slid down the depth chart since the Wild drafted Granlund, Zucker, Larsson, Bulmer, Phillips, Lucia and traded for Coyle. There was a time when he was the top dog prospect, so a lot's changed since.

Update: Only guys skating today in Dallas are Marek Zidlicky, Mike Lundin, Mikko Koivu, Brad Staubitz, Josh Harding, Jed Ortmeyer, Cason McMillan and Matt Kassian. Rest of the guys off-ice workout after the Wild got to hotel at 4 a.m. Yeo says if he has to guess, no Clayton Stoner vs. Dallas.

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