Panthers trade for Wolski, Rangers receive Vernace, pick

NEW YORK NY - JANUARY 13: Brandon Dubinsky #17 of the New York Rangers congratulates Wojtek Wolski #86 after Wolski scored the game winning goal against the Vancouver Canucks during the game at Madison Square Garden on January 13 2011 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Canucks 1-0. (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

The Florida Panthers have acquired forward Wojtek Wolski (above, foreground) in a deal with the New York Rangers Saturday afternoon, less than one day after turning 26. Going the other way are minor league D Mike Vernace and a 3rd round selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

The 21st overall pick in 2004, Wolski impressed early with Colorado, scoring 50 points (22G) in his first full season (2006-07), followed by several years in the 40-point range. A mid-season trade to Phoenix in 2010 saw him reach his career plateau with 65 points (23G), though he has been unable to approach his previous numbers with either the Coyotes or in a limited association with the Rangers.

Farmed out to AHL Connecticut on a conditioning assignment, the center/winger has 3G/2A in six games with the Whale. Per CapGeek, Wolski is now Florida's second-highest paid forward at $3.8M (behind Tomas Fleischmann's $4.5M); he will be a restricted free agent in July. Yep, he's on Twitter: @WojtekWolski86

Headed to the Rangers' system is blueliner Mike Vernace, whom the Panthers received in December from Tampa Bay. A 7th round selection by San Jose in 2004, the 25 year-old is entering his sixth NHL organization. New York will also receive a 3rd round pick in 2013.

Florida management had acquired RW Jerred Smithson from Nashville Friday; both deals signify further transactions are likely on the way as the club is loaded up front.

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