With first-line right wing Andre Deveaux suspended three games because of boarding incidents in two games against the Springfield Falcons last weekend, the Connecticut Whale could use some reinforcements.
They could be getting them from their parent club as New York Rangers coach John Tortorella said Tuesday that he’s considering asking wing Wojtek Wolski and center Erik Christensen to accept conditioning assignments to the Whale to get them playing time.
Wolski has played only six games this season and none since Nov. 3 when he needed surgery for a sports hernia. Christensen has only one goal and four assists in 20 games and has been a healthy scratch since Dec. 17. He has dressed for only four games since Nov. 23, and they were all from Dec. 11 to 17.
Wolski and Christensen must give their consent for a conditioning assignment. Ironically, the Whale is heading toward New York after practice Wednesday on their way to Norfolk, Va., for games Friday and Saturday nights. They are making a pit stop in Voorhees, N.Y., to stay overnight and practice before going on to Norfolk.
“I’m not saying we have to get (Wolski) in because I like some things that are going on with our team right now,” Tortorella told the New York media, referring to the Rangers having won four in a row and nine of 10 to move into the Eastern Conference lead entering a home game Tuesday night against Phoenix. “That’s a situation where he hasn’t played a whole bunch. We’ll see how other guys go along here and if we feel if we have to get somebody in, he’ll probably be the next guy to get an opportunity.
“Your minor league team, when it’s right down the street, it’s a really good thing for players,” Tortorella added. “For what’s good for them and what’s good for the team, that’s a good situation. We’re in the process of trying to figure all that out because Erik and (Wolski) have not played. We’re going to get bumped, we’re going to have some injuries. I think it would be good if the players went down and got some playing time. It’s being discussed.”
Deveaux, who is third on the Whale in scoring with 11 goals and 14 assists, got suspended two games for a boarding major penalty on the Falcons’ Patrick Cullity in a 5-4 shootout loss on Saturday night and one game for a boarding incident in a 4-2 loss Sunday. Deveaux has to sit out the two games in Norfolk and at Portland on Jan. 18. He’s eligible to return for a game against St. John’s on Jan. 20 at the XL Center.
Deveaux has been effective on the Whale’s No. 1 line with veteran center Kris Newbury and All-Star rookie right wing Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, especially as a net-front presence on the power play. Deveaux, who signed a free-agent contract Aug. 16, has a team-high nine power-play goals, which is tied for second in the league to the 11 of Graham Mink of the Hershey Bears.
All-Star wing Mats Zuccarello is also close to returning to the Whale after missing the last 13 games with an injury that he sustained in 5-3 loss to Hershey on Dec. 9.
EX-PACK, WILFORD REMAINS WITH CRUNCH
The Syracuse Crunch announced Tuesday that the Anaheim Ducks have restructured their coaching staff. Trent Yawney has been named associate head coach, Mark Holick associate coach and former Hartford Wolf Pack defenseman Marty Wilford will remain as assistant coach.