We’ve already covered some of the more intriguing players that will be available via free agency, but it doesn’t appear likely that the big-ticket guys like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will end up in New York. The 2012 free agent class is extremely thin, but at the draft last weekend GM Glen Sather confidently stated the team would still be “fairly aggressive” in free agency. So who else could the organization pursue on July 1st?
Today we’ll look at the forwards.
Ray Whitney – Scares many off because of his age (40), but he actually seems to be getting more productive somehow. Wants to be paid, but doesn’t require a long-term commitment. Might make a lot of sense on a one- or two-year deal.
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Have no fear, Ranger fans, Olli Jokinen will not be returning to the Rangers for next season. According to Alexander Zaitsev, citing Sportsdaily.ru, the now ex-Ranger center will be signing with the Dynamo Minsk of the KHL. Jokinen, who was acquired at the Olympic deadline with Brandon Prust for Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins, was brought in to help add some scoring to the Rangers. In 26 games with the Blueshirts, Jokinen scored 4 goals and added 11 assists. He will, however, be remembered mainly for being the third shooter in the season finale against Philadelphia. As you know, Jokinen tried deking and putting the puck through Brian Boucher, but the goalie got his pad there, and the Rangers missed the playoffs for the first time in the post-lockout era.
Update 1:05pm: I should probably note that the deal isn’t finalized, but it is very likely he will sign there.
Update 6:40pm: Darren Dreger has refuted this rumor. That didn’t take long.
Fresh off their embarrassing 6-1 loss in the semi finals to Team USA, Team Finland rebounded nicely in the bronze medal game last night, defeating Team Slovakia to win the Bronze medal. The Finns showed some tremendous poise, netting four goals in the third period to erase a 3-1 deficit to win 5-3.
The comeback was led by Rangers center Olli Jokinen, who scored two goals two minutes apart. These goals tied the game, and then gave the Finns the lead for good.
Valterri Filpulla Valtteri Filppula added an empty netter to seal the deal for the Finns.
Rangers forward Marian Gaborik, who suffered a lower body injury in the semi finals game, scored a goal for the Slovaks.
Team USA faces off against Team Canada for the gold today at 3pm.
Oh wait, there’s a game tonight. Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust will be making their Ranger debuts tonight, wearing numbers 12 and 8, respectively. To make room for them in the lineup, Donald Brashear will be scratched again, as will Enver Lisin. Lisin didn’t play poorly in his “return to the lineup” over the past few games. But, dare I say that Aaron Voros has earned his playing time? I do dare. He has, and deserves to be in the lineup.
Now that the Jokinen trade is official, I thought I would provide my thoughts on the trade. And it’s pretty simple: Win for Glen Sather. Glen Sather may suck in free agency, but the man knows what he’s doing in trades. Jokinen for Higgins and Kotalik would be simply unheard of a couple months ago.
I’ve maintained that Jokinen is essentially being swapped for Higgins. Kotalik doesn’t play. Jokinen is a HUGE upgrade over Higgins. I like Higgins. He’s a hard worker. Good penalty killer. Can’t hit the side of a barn, though. Jokinen is a scorer. He scored 29 goals last year. Calgary wasn’t working for him. He and Iginla didn’t mesh, and he only has 11 goals. I expect that to dramatically change. Jokinen is more of a fit with Gaborik. I think Jokinen can put up some points.
Put it this way: The Rangers made a push towards the playoffs, without sacrificing their youth. Kotalik was a bust. Higgins was a bust. They gave up nothing for one of the better players in the league. To me, that’s a winning deal.
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.
Generally, when teams are on the verge of a trade, the players involved are scratched as a precaution. An injury to a player involved in a trade would essentially kill the deal. This is the sole reason why Olli Jokinen suiting up for Calgary tonight when the Flames are in Philly is a very, very unusual move.
More details as they come.
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.