As expected, the much discussed trade between the Flames and Rangers finally became official late last night. Following Calgary's dreadful 3-0 shutout home loss to the Flyers, the two clubs reached agreement on a four player trade that sends Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust to Broadway for Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik.
Rather than sound like a broken record repeating our breakdown posted previously in this space, we'll just commend Glen Sather on getting this done. Thanks in part to John Tortorella sending a message that Kotalik sucked, Slats admitted error and moved the ex-Sabre and his ugly $3 million salary/no-trade to
Adding Jokinen, whose hefty $5.25 M salary will come off the books at season's conclusion- is a good move because it fills a void at center. Whether the 31 year-old veteran can return to the All-Star form he displayed in the Sunshine state remains to be seen. But the big pivot returns to the East where he's quite familiar and should have plenty of incentive.
"It comes with the salary, you make $5 million, 11 goals isnot going to cut it," the disappointed Finn told the Canadian media. "It's definitely a slap in the face to get traded."If he can effectively team with Gaborik and Vinny Prospal, suddenly the Rangers could become a better team allowing others to take on more comfortable roles. It should relieve pressure off Chris Drury, who is better served anchoring a checking line with Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky. What could the lines look like for tonight's final game out West in Hollywood? Who knows. Perhaps this might be worth a try:
"I get a chance to play with one of the better players in the league in [Marian] Gaborik."
Getting the 25 year-old Prust was a necessity, finally addressing the lack of toughness. The Rangers have repeatedly been pushed around with the Daniel Carcillo thuggery of Gaborik with nobody coming to the star winger's aid standing out. Ironically, they dropped five in a row before Gabby recorded his first hat trick as a Ranger in a 3-1 win over the Avalanche Sunday. Perhaps the presence of Prust, whose 18 fights
"I'm looking forward to going to the big city and playing in Madison Square Garden so I'm looking forward to it, but I'm sad to leave again," an emotional Prust expressed.For what's been the most vanilla team you've ever seen, the Rangers just got a lot more interesting. The question is how will this new roster perform. In a mediocre East with the club that's won only once in the last six remarkably moving up into seventh due to a Florida loss last night, they have until the Olympic Break to give Sather a stronger indication of what will happen at the March 3 deadline. That's not a lot of time.
While the Blueshirts upgraded short-term, Calgary maybe setting up for a much bigger fish. Having stockpiled 13 wings, Darryl Sutter looks to be in position to make more deals. Could Ilya Kovalchuk be his primary target? Expect stiff competition from Washington, Philadelphia and LA with another mystery Eastern team sliding in. It should be fun.
For the Rangers, the fun starts later tonight.