This Is NOT a Jokinen

Jokinen licking his lips at the prospect of centering Gaborik?
Jokinen licking his lips at the prospect of centering Gaborik?

TSN Canada is reporting that the Rangers are close to announcing a deal that would send forwards Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins to the Calgary Flames for C Olli Jokinen and F Brandon Prust.

Jokinen, 31, has 11 goals and 24 assists in 55 games with the Flames this season. He is in the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent following the season.

Prust, 25, is a rugged forward who has 1 goal and 4 assists in 24 games this season. He will also be a UFA at season’s end.

Higgins was acquired by the Blueshirts this past offseason in the Scott Gomez trade with Montreal and the Long Island native has never really looked comfortable playing with his hometown club. Kotalik, who was another offseason acquisition of GM Glen Sather, never found his place on the ice and after a hot start has spent most of his time in the rafters over the last month instead of on the ice during games. Higgins is a UFA at season’s end and Kotalik still has two years remaining on the 3 year, 9 million dollar pact he signed over the summer.

Analysis: While it’s easy to call for Glen Sather’s head based on this team’s uneven and uninspired play this season and an obviously mismatched roster he put together, Rangers fans must admit that the man knows how to pull off a trade. If this deal goes through, The Rangers will acquire a proven scorer in Jokinen and a physical presence (who can fill the void that Donald Brashear hasn’t been able to) in Brandon Prust while subtracting a player in Higgins, who obviously had trouble with playing on this stage and also removing six million dollars off the books over the next two seasons by shedding the enigmatic Kotalik. This is a great move for the Rangers from every angle and if Jokinen prospers while he’s on Broadway, the Blueshirts will have the first crack at him in free agency once the season ends. I have to think, while the fans won’t be happy until the “W”‘s come more frequently for this club, that this move will make more than a few of them smile and that the attendance at the upcoming “Fire Sather” rally may have just been thinned out a little by the wily old general manager.

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