The waiting is over!
Finally after a day of waiting, Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust are Rangers, while the team bids goodbuy to Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins.
No matter how Jokinen meshes with Marian Gaborik, this is simply a good trade for the Rangers. They gave up nothing, while getting the cap flexibility for next season if their new No. 1 center leaves as a free agent.
These are the trades general manager Glen Sather needs to make. The Rangers can’t give up their young talent, as that’s the future of the organization, so he has to be nimble and use the bad fits in moves to make the team better.
In this trade, Sather just moved two very disappointing parts, including one that didn’t want to be in New York, and got himself a rental, which could make a huge impact this season. Coach John Tortorella knows Jokinen from his years in Tampa, as the new Ranger was the No. 1 option on the rival Florida Panthers. If anyone knows the enigmatic ex-Islander, it’s Torts. And if there’s a fit with Gaborik, the No. 1 line with Vinny Prospal on the wing, gives the Blueshirts a great scoring combination.
And if there isn’t a fit, then the No. 2 line may get a whole lot better, because there will be some secondary scoring going on, something that has been missing for most of the season.
Of course, this doesn’t mean the Rangers are a perfect team, far from it. It still needs to shed some really bad contracts in Wade Redden, Michal Rozsival and Donald Brashear, but it’s a start, and one that could be a sign of things to come.
Although this looks like a win-win, of course this could go south. No one thought getting Higgins and Kotalik were bad moves over the summer. In fact, this space lauded the arrival of the Smithtown, NY native, but it was not meant to be.
It’s not easy playing in your hometown, which is something Higgins learned very quickly in New York and Kotalik just never fit in with Tortorella, something not many can do. Yet, neither player were life long Rangers, just some spare parts in a greater scheme of things.
Yet, the young players are a different story. Sather must keep his young talent, since that’s the way the organization grows long term. Brandon Dubinsky still needs to grow and Ryan Callahan can improve as well. On the blue line, three young talents in Marc Staal, Michael Del Zotto, and Matt Gilroy are the future. Sure they make their mistakes, but their errors are far less glaring then Redden’s or Rozsival’s.
Maybe in the next month, Sather will be able to move another player or two. It will take a miracle to get rid of Redden’s bloated contract and Brashear appears to found his life in the Blue Seats with the addition of Prust, but sometimes things happen. Who would have thought Scoot Gomez would have been traded after last season or Jokinen and Prust come to New York for a couple of spare parts.
Things happen. And now the Rangers are better for it.