I went to bed last night, so I wasn’t awake to get this post up when it happened. The trade is official. The Rangers have acquired Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust from Calgary in exchange for Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins.
In the end, Jokinen essentially replaces Higgins in the lineup, as Kotalik had been a healthy scratch for the previous eight of nine, and was going to be for the foreseeable future. The Rangers also get some much needed grit and fighting ability in the young Prust.
The Rangers don’t
lost lose (me no speak englis) much in Kotalik, but Higgins’ departure will be felt more than people realize. Higgins did a lot more for the Rangers than what showed up on the scoreboard, but the final decision is that the Rangers need scoring, not gritty forwards.
In terms of salary, Prust is an RFA at the end of the year, and makes a minimal salary. Jokinen, making $5.25 million, is a UFA at the end of the year, and will likely not be re-signed. The Rangers shed Kotalik’s $3 million for the next two seasons. Higgins is a UFA.
Grade this trade as a win for Sather. He addressed two holes while dealing from spare parts. Well done.
Update 9:05am: Matchsticks and Gasoline (main Flames blog) is really pissed. When you think about it, they traded Matt Lombardi, Brandon Prust, James Vandermeer, and a 1st round pick for Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins. Ouch.
Update 9:30am: The Depth Chart has been updated to reflect the trade.
We can’t be entirely sure if Olli Jokinen will be a Ranger, but signs are pointing that way. As a refresher, the deal was: Jokinen and Brandon Prust to Broadway, and Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins going out to Calgary. I love this deal. Jokinen, who is essentially replacing Higgins, since Kotalik doesn’t play anymore, is a very good player, who can set up with the best of them. Prust is a more physical version of Voros. Higgins, while a good penalty killer and a hard worker, was expendable. He wasn’t scoring. Kotalik, as we all know, just wasn’t working out. After the first couple of weeks, his shot from the point was hitting the net, and he’s next to useless on even strength. So, in my mind, this is another home run trade for Glen Sather.
Of course, this trade begs the question: Where will Jokinen play? And what will the lines look like? Here’s my early take:
Jokinen and Gaborik are a natural fit. That’s a great 1-2 punch–one of the better ones in the league. I’ve always wanted to see Avery with Dubi and Cally. That’s a hell of a hardworking line. The 3rd line is a good 3rd line. Anisimov seems to have chemistry with Lisin, and the defensive prowess of Drury allows Lisin to do more in the offensive end. The fourth line is kind of a mish-mosh. Don’t want to see Voros back in the press box, but Prust is a better player. Christensen has proven himself enough, and I love Boyle. Brashear sits.
Is this team better with the acquisition of Jokinen? Yes. Much better. So much better. Best part? They didn’t sacrifice the future. The Rangers still need to add a defenseman (or two). And he has to be physical. Garnet Exelby from Toronto for a 4th rounder anyone?
The Rangers are in the process of finalizing a deal with the Calgary Flames, a deal that would see Olli Jokinen come to Broadway in exchange for Ales Kotalik and one of Christopher Higgins or Matt Gilroy. More details to come.
Update 10:22pm: Matt Gilroy will not be involved in the deal.
Update 10:25pm:The final deal will be Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins to Calgary for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust.
Update 10:30pm: This is a fantastic trade. The best-case scenario for the Rangers in terms of buying at the deadline.
The Rangers have successfully filled two glaring holes in their lineup, they added a lot of toughness in Prust, who is a much better fighter than Aaron Voros, and added some much needed scoring in Jokinen. Going over to Calgary are two players that have fallen out of grace in NY. The loss of Higgins is going to be felt more than people realize, but the addition of Jokinen is definitely worth it.
In terms of salary cap, Jokinen is a UFA at the end of the season, so the Rangers will be clearing his $5.25 million cap hit. Brandon Prust is a RFA, but makes the league minimum. In terms of net value, the Rangers will be netting $3 million in cap space by dealing Kotalik.
This is a fantastic deal. I absolutely love it.
Update 11:30pm: Trade won’t be announced tonight, Calgary is holding up the deal. I would assume they want more for Jokinen.
Larry Brooks is reporting that Ales Kotalik
has been traded. Details to come. will be traded.
Jim Cerny is reporting that Ales Kotalik, a healthy scratch for six in a row, is back on the point on the first powerplay unit. He will likely be back in the lineup tomorrow.
If I had to guess who he replaces, I’ll go with Brashear. Voros and Lisin have earned the right to stay in the lineup for at least another game.
During last night’s Blueshirt Banter Radio, hosted by Blueshirt Banter’s Jim Schmiedeberg and The Mouth, it was made public that Ales Kotalik has requested a trade. If you read this blog, chances are you read Blueshirt Banter too. If you don’t they do a fantastic job at covering the Rangers, especially with their radio shows. Go check it out.
According to the agent, Kotalik has asked for a trade, telling the Rangers he is not happy with the organization, and wants to be traded, released, or he will defect to Russia. Kotalik has allegedly told the Rangers he would like to be traded out west.
Don’t expect Kotalik to be traded, no one wants to take on that contract. I would expect him to be waived, sent to Hartford, where he will be “allowed” to sign with a KHL team. I guess this can be considered good news, it frees up much needed cap space, assuming they find a way to dump him.
Awesome signing Glen. Awesome.
Update 10:10am: When can I say I told you so? Now? Soon?
Andrew Gross is reporting that Ales Kotalik and Donald Brashear will be scratched again tonight against Tampa Bay. This will be the third straight game that the Rangers have $4.4 million in cap hits sitting in the Prucha box. There has to be a better way to spend that money.
When Glen Sather signed Ales Kotalik over the summer to a three year deal at $3 million per season, I cringed. I was really hoping for one more year of Nik Zherdev, I think his presence this year would have really helped the Rangers. Alas, we were stuck with Kotalik, and now we have $3 million sitting in the Prucha Box.
Just for fun, I ran the numbers for buying out Kotalik at the end of the season, and the numbers themselves aren’t too terrible. Due to the structure of Kotalik’s contract ($3 million a year), the buyout numbers don’t vary from year to year the way they would with a buyout of Michal Rozsival. If Glen Sather decides to buy out Kotalik at the end of this season, the resulting cap hit will be just $1 million for the next four seasons. The Rangers would save $2 million in cap room for the next two seasons, and then have an extra $1 million cap hit for the following two seasons.
If Kotalik can’t find a way to claw his way into the lineup on a consistent basis, what’s the point of having his $3 million on the books? I’d rather it just be $1 million. But hey, I’m biased, I never liked Kotalik.
As per Andrew Gross, Ales Kotalik will be scratched tonight for the third time this season. Kotalik has been even less than I thought he would be, which is tough because I didn’t expect much. Donald Brashear will be a scratch tonight also, and Chad Johnson will make his second start of his career.
Enver Lisin and Aaron Voros, who have been the most common Prucha victims, are getting some playing time at the expense of Brashear and Kotalik. What a fantastic way to spend $4.4 million.
According the Bruce “Malkin to the Kings” Garrioch, the Rangers are actively trying to move underachieving forwards Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik.
NY RANGERS: New York has been trying to move potential UFA W Chris Higgins, who only has four goals and six assists in 36 games this season. The Rangers don’t have any complaints about his effort, but he’s just not scoring. He is making $2.25 million (all terms US) this season. The club is also trying to move RW Ales Kotalik, who has been a healthy scratch for four straight games.
“All these guys can be had pretty easily,” said a league executive. “But there’s a reason they’re available: They make too much money and aren’t playing well.”
The bottom portion of the quote says it all. The Rangers are in a bit of a hole when it comes to Kotalik, as he still has two years left of that awful deal. I believe now is the time to say I told you so.
Higgins is the more likely to be dealt, as he is a UFA at the end of the year, and it’s very likely that he finds his scoring touch with a change of scenery. The effort is there, he’s just very unlucky right now. Considering the timing of the Olympic roster freeze and the trade deadline, you may see more deals made prior to the Olympic break than normal.