Monday, February 1, 2010

Rumored deal with Flames could make Jokinen Blueshirt

As was reported by many outlets last night during the Rangers' win over the Avs, they were set to make a trade with the busy Flames, who earlier yesterday finally traded much rumored Dion Phaneuf to the Maple Leafs in a seven-player extravaganza that excluded picks. A rarity in the Cap Era. More on that blockbuster later along with Brian Burke reuniting with Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

With Calgary unloading Phaneuf along with former Ranger PK fixture Freddy Sjostrom plus D prospect Keith Aulie for a package that included Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers and Ian White, it allowed Darryl Sutter enough maneuverability to consider dumping Olli Jokinen on our team, who desperately lacks a No.1 center. Something Joke-inen used to qualify for. With the Blueshirts having their own headache in failure Ales Kotalik, the two sides hammered out a deal that would bring Jokinen and enforcer Brandon Prust to Broadway filling two voids in exchange for Ally and Chris Higgins.

As of late last night, the deal was on hold pending Kotalik's willingness to waive his no-trade and accept a deal back to Alberta where he spent part of last year with Edmonton before agreeing to the preposterous three-year $9 million contract that Glen Savior handed out. As we noted in our game story, Larry Brooks reported that Ally left the team after hearing that he would be dealt. The story which appeared on the NY Post's site was published before the Rangers and Avs faced off with Kotalik's teammate Higgins participating in what might have been his final game of an exasperating stint after coming over in the Scott Gomez salary dump last summer.

If the trade goes through, the Rangers would rid themselves of Kotalik, who had become the odd man out in John Tortorella's lineup. Being able to find a taker for such an insane contract would be a miracle of epic proportions. As for Higgins who has never stopped working despite a severe lack of finish (6 goals), he would be on his third team in less than a year with his contract ($2.25 million) up, giving Calgary necessary space to go after Ilya Kovalchuk.Combine that with subtracting Phaneuf's hefty $6.5 million salary along with both Stajan ($1.75 M) and Mayers ($1.4 M) turning unrestricted while White (850 K) would be an RFA and the Flames just saved a ton.

For the Blueshirts, even a 31-year old Jokinen looking on the downside would be low risk due to his $5.25 million salary coming off the books this summer. The former Panther hasn't been the same since he was traded to Phoenix, who dumped him to Calgary less than a year in. It would also be his third team in a year. Though underwhelming, his 35 points (11-24-35) would rank third behind Marian Gaborik (33-32-65) and Vinny Prospal (9-30-39). Such a deal would take heat off centers Brandon Dubinsky, Chris Drury and Artem Anisimov, allowing Jokinen to play with Gaborik. Only question is what happens to waiver bargain Erik Christensen, who's meshed well with Gabby in limited duty. With Brian Boyle anchoring the fourth line, Tortorella would have more options available, balancing things out up front for a roster that's produced only 141 goals, ranking near the bottom.

All these questions are moot until it becomes official. It's too good to be true. Don't forget this is the Rangers we're talking about.

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