After finally getting back in the win column for the first time since Jan. 19, the Rangers may continue to make the fans smile if they can complete a reported trade with the Calgary Flames.
Reportedly, the Blueshirts will send disgruntled forward Ales Kotalik and disappointing left wing Christopher Higgins west for center Olli Jokinen and enforcer Brandon Prust. It’s a win-win for the Rangers, since they would free up salary on the cap while addressing two very pressing needs.
Yet, they are reportedly waiting for Kotalik’s approval, since he has a limited no-trade clause in his contract. One of those teams is the Flames.
If the details can be worked out, general manager Glen Sather would have found his No. 1 pivot to go with Marian Gaborik and a tough guy, a role both Donald Brashear and Aaron Voros failed at this season for different reasons. (Brashear doesn’t fight, while Voros doesn’t win his fights.)
In Jokinen, the Rangers get a 31 year-old veteran who has scored more than 30 goals four times in his career and current has 11 lights of the lamp with 24 assists. He will immediately become the No. 1 center on the team between Vinny Prospal and Marian Gaborik, forming a very good scoring combination.
Prust will become the Rangers fighter, a role they sorely missed this season after Colton Orr left as a free agent and his replacement Brashear turned out to be a bust.
In turn, the Sather will ship away Kotalik, who has been a healthy scratch for the past eight games and reportedly was looking to be traded. On the season, he has eight goals with 14 assists and an awful minus-18. The former Buffalo Sabre was supposed to the answer on the power play point when he signed a three-year, $9 million contract over the summer, but he couldn’t handle that role and his defense has been extremely suspect.
Also going to Calgary will be Higgins, who came to the Rangers in the Scott Gomez trade. A former 20 goal scorer, the Smithtown, NY native just couldn’t find the net this season and only has six goals with eight assists and a minus-9.
If this trade goes through the Rangers would assume Jokinen’s $5.25 million contract for the rest of the season, yet is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and Prust makes $500,000. Sather will free up Kotalik’s $3 million per for the next two seasons with this trade.
Higgins will be an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Nothing will be announced until later today at the earliest. In the meantime, Ranger fans can take solace in Gaborik’s natural hat trick in the team’s 3-1 win over the Avalanche.