The Rangers completed their trade for Olli Jokinen this morning, giving up the underperforming Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik for Calgary’s Jokinen and Brandon Prust.
Kotalik was strange for the Rangers. Brought in as a powerplay specialist, he became such a defensive liability, he found himself a consistent scratch, despite a booming shot. Also, presumably brought in because of his success on a line with Chris Drury in Buffalo, the two didn’t spend much time playing together.
So the Rangers unload a healthy scratch who takes up $3 million over three years.
Higgins also underperformed. Rangers coach John Tortorella went above and beyond in trying to get him going, giving him plenty of ice time and chances, but Higgins has seemed snake-bitten, hitting posts and missing open nets. The Long Island native might have been under too much pressure playing for the Rangers. A change of scenery to Calgary will do him wonders.
The Flames unload Jokinen, whose reputation as a horrible teammate proceeds him. The Flames knew they weren’t going to re-sign him, so they figured they’d get something now. It’s just weird that the something they wanted would be two players not living up to their potential.
Prust is an enforcer who might let the Rangers buyout the struggling Donald Brashear, who lately only seems to be enforcing the Rangers contractual obligation to pay him more than he’s worth. Also, Rangers GM Glen Sather likes to have as many third/fourth liners as he can.
It’ll be interesting to see where the Rangers place Jokinen. My guess is he won’t play with Marian Gaborik most of the time, in an attempt to give the Rangers the illusion of depth and scoring.
So the Rangers dump some dead weight and get back a difficult personality they won’t have to deal with for long. The Flames dump that same personality and get back some players the seem to think they can get going.
It’s a lot of bad pieces moving around, but at least the bad pieces are evenly spread.