The New York Rangers
, who have been carrying 14 forwards since the All-Star break, cleared some room Friday by dealing Erik Christensen
and a conditional seventh-round pick in 2013 to the Minnesota Wild
for forward Casey Wellman
The 24-year-old Wellman, who has 2 goals and 5 assists in 14 games this season, was assigned to the AHL's Connecticut Whale.
Before shedding Christensen's $925,000 salary, the Rangers could add about $5.5 million in cap hits at the Feb. 27 trade deadline, according to capgeek.com. That number is sure to go up slightly with this transaction.
Christensen had fallen out of favor with the Rangers after winning a roster spot out of training camp over fellow forward Sean Avery
. The 28-year-old never seized the opportunity, netting just 1 goal and 4 assists in 20 games. He hasn't played since Dec. 17.
Christensen accepting a two-week conditioning stint with the Whale in mid-January. He had 2 goals and an assist in five games with the Whale, but had been a healthy scratch since he was recalled Jan. 24.
The Wild are Christensen's fifth team in seven seasons.
Christensen's strength has always been in shootouts. In his career, he is 24-for-46 in the post-overtime tiebreaker. The Wild, who rank 28th in the NHL in offense at 2.26 goals per game, are 5-5 in the shootout this season. Christensen has 62 goals and 94 assists in 358 career games, but confidence has always been an issue for the Edmonton native.
Christensen was claimed off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks
in 2009, but he never found consistency with the Rangers. In 132 games as a Ranger, he had 20 goals and 38 assists.
"I probably frustrate him more than anyone else on this team," Christensen told NHL.com during last year's playoffs about his dealings with Tortorella. "He's definitely given me an opportunity. I come up here and didn't know what to expect. He's definitely got a people kind of side to him. He's not the guy everyone sees on the bench. He'll talk to you. You'll see him laughing and joking with the guys. It's been a lot of fun playing for him."
The 6-foot, 173-pound Wellman has 4 goals and 9 assists in 41 career games over parts of three seasons.
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo