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.
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.
According to Bruce “Malkin to the Kings” Garrioch, the Rangers are in a desperate search for a top-six forward, and the injured Pavol Demitra is on the radar. Demitra, currently injured with the Vancouver Canucks, has played with Marian Gaborik in Minnesota before, and would be an interesting fit between Gaborik and Vinny Prospal.
Depending on what it would cost the Rangers, this could be an interesting move. The only problem here is the cost. As of today, the Rangers should be sellers at the trade deadline, not buyers. Despite their spot as 9th in the conference right now, the Rangers are 9-15-3 since the seven game win streak was snapped. Of course Demitra would help, but at what cost? It will cost more than Christopher Higgins, in terms of player value and cap space (Demitra has a $4 million cap hit, Higgins $2.25).
Although the cap space problem might alleviate itself by waiting –any deal involving contracts like Demitra probably won’t get done until after the new year, or even after the Olympics break– the Rangers would have to give up a draft pick in addition to Higgins, or maybe a P.A. Parenteau-type player.
s/t to BSBer Jordan for pointing this out to me.
You wanted changes? Well, you got changes. Wade Redden and Ales Kotalik will be healthy scratches for tonight’s game against the Islanders. Bobby Sanguinetti and Erik Christensen will take their place. We all expected something to be done, especially after the tirade by Torts. And Kotalik deserves to be benched. But I would have much rather seen Chris Higgins, or Michal Rosival be benched. I would say Drury too, but his PK work is too invaluable. When the Rangers hired Torts, we expected an Iron Fist coaching style. This is the first sign of it. Still, he has to do more. He has to go further. He has to bench Rosy, who is beyond ineffective. Right now, as a friend of mine says, the Rangers are Henrik Lundqvist, Marian Gaborik and a bunch of figure skaters. That’s what they are. We’ll see how the team responds to the moves. Personally, my hopes aren’t high.
As we try to digest yet another Rangers loss, I couldn’t help but think. So here are some random thoughts coming from my mind to yours.
-Chris Higgins can’t buy a goal. Honestly. He’s been playing so well. He’s been aggressive on the forecheck. He’s creating chances. He just can’t bury the puck. And I don’t know why. I don’t know why. But, I have a feeling that he’s going to get hot. He has to at some point. He’s playing to well.
-Lundqvist needs a break. Whether he’s been worked too hard, or whether is mind is elsewhere, having Valliquette start a couple more games cannot hurt. Hank needs to be Hank for this team to win. Right now, he’s struggling.
-Marian Gaborik is close to breaking last year’s high goal total. Markus Naslund had 24. Gabby has 21. He should break it this week. And it hasn’t even been 30 games!
-Gaborik is why this team is better than last year. Immediately, you have a better scoring presence. Power play is imporved, markedly. This team should make the playoffs. They are better than last year. This is probably just a rough stretch.
-I miss Wade Redden.
-Bobby Sanguinetti does nothing for me.
-Chris Drury looks like a different player, in a good way. Much faster, much better skating-wise. He’s doing a hell of job on the point.
-Ales Kotalik has found his way into the doghouse.
-P.A. Parenteau is pretty good. He should stay for awhile.
-Like I said, this is a playoff team. This is just a rough (very rough) stretch. All teams go through it. If the Rangers can come out of this and get some points, everything will be okay.
With Drury and Dubinsky out for the near future, and no real viable center candidates in Hartford, or on the waiver wire (Joel Lundqvist anyone?) the Rangers have to start looking on their current roster for replacement. Chris Higgins, I thought, was spectacular defensively at center against Ottawa. Clogging lanes, making responsible decisions. That’s why, until Drury and Dubinsky gets back, Higgins should stay at center. The lines should stay the way they were against Ottawa:
It’s not an ideal lineup, but in terms of balance, and defensive responsibility, it works out.
Looks like P.A. Parenteau’s call up is having an effect on Chris Higgins as well. Higgins has been shifted to center, with Parenteau and Ales Kotalik flanking him. The fourth line of Aaron Voros-Brian Boyle-Donald Brashear has been reunited, and can expect five minutes of playing time a piece in Ottawa.
Michael Obernauer is reporting that Chris Higgins could be lining up at center on Thursday against the Atlanta Thrashers:
“Higgins has played center before, he’s perfectly capable of doing it,” the president/GM said as he made his way to the auditorium. “You’re better off letting your people have an opportunity and see what they can do, and if they can’t do it then we’ll look to make a deal.”
With Higgins at center, that makes a lineup of Vinny Prospal, Artem Anisimov, Higgins, and Brian Boyle at center. I still would be shocked if P.A. Parenteau isn’t called up for a few games. Donald Brashear is still injured, and Enver Lisin’s foot is still healing. While Dane Byers can replace Brashear in the lineup, if Lisin is out, the Rangers would be short a forward.
This also means, as I predicted, that Evgeny Grachev is unlikely to be called up.