McPhee: Caps willing to take chance on Wolski

July 16, 2012

Wojtek Wolski is a former first-round draft pick who recorded 65 points just three seasons ago. But given that his production dropped sharply after that offensive outburst and then injuries limited his 2011-12 campaign, the Capitals brought Wolski to Washington for an interview before deciding to sign him.

The Capitals didn’t agree to a one-year, $600,000 contract with Wolskiuntil after he interviewed with members of the hockey operations staff — Coach Adam Oates, some of the team’s professional scouts and General Manager George McPhee.

“We’re willing to take a chance here but we need a commitment from you,” McPhee said Saturday when recounting the discussion with Wolski. “He was really good, really honest, real blunt. He said: ‘I know my career’s on the line. I have to play better. I took my foot off the gas the last couple years.’ This year was a tough one for him because he was hurt, but I think he scored the 65 points, got a big contract and just didn’t play as hard as he should have after that.”

Given the bargain rate at which the Capitals signed Wolski, who said he has been told to anticipate a top-six role, it’s a low-risk, high-reward situation for the team. Based on his comments at the time of his signing, Wolski is motivated to prove he can be a productive offensive player again, and if he succeeds, Washington will have added scoring punch at the cost of minimal salary cap space.

Oates believes Wolski can make this deal pay off for both sides.

“Obviously he’s gone through a lot of self-analyzing about his game and where he is. He said he’s at the crossroads of his career,” Oates said. Wolski gets “a chance to play with some really good hockey players to resurrect yourself. He was great about it. I’m excited because he’s a talented player that if he plays good hockey will really help us.”

Said McPhee: “The ability’s there, and I think the commitment’s there again. I get seduced by talent from time to time. I like it. We have a good group of forwards that are big and play hard, and this was an opportunity to sprinkle a little more talent in there.”

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