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Rangers claim Woywitka off waivers

Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 12:36 PM / News

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

STOCKHOLM -- The Rangers picked up some defensive insurance Thursday by claiming Jeff Woywitka off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens.

Woywitka was due to fly from Montreal to Stockholm, where the Rangers open the season Friday against the Los Angeles Kings. It wasn't immediately known if Woywitka would arrive in time for the morning skate, or who will be assigned to the Connecticut Whale of the AHL to make room for him on the roster.

Defensemen Stu Bickel has been assigned back to Connecticut.

Woywitka signed a one-year, two-way contract with Montreal on July 1 that pays him $650,000 at the NHL level.

"It's too bad we lost him, but it's a nice opportunity for him in New York," Montreal coach Jacques Martin said. "I think the fact we signed players like (Alexei) Emelin and (Rafael) Diaz, they're two players with a lot of potential who have played professional hockey before and who bring different elements. So I think we have good depth on defense."

The Rangers were looking for a veteran defenseman to help them with Marc Staal going on injured reserve due to post-concussion symptoms. The club recalled Erixon from Connecticut on Wednesday and brought him back across the Atlantic to potentially make his NHL debut Friday against the Kings in the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere.

However, coach John Tortorella would prefer that Erixon learn the North American game in the AHL for a while.

Woywitka played the last two seasons in Dallas, compiling 14 points over 99 games. He has played in 251 NHL games since making his debut with St. Louis in 2005-06. His best season was 2008-09, when he had 18 points in 65 games with the Blues.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery