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Rangers News: Rangers officially trade Chris Higgins and Ales Kotalik for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust

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As we first reported almost two weeks ago here on Blueshirt Banter, Ales Kotalik has been traded. To a team out west. Readers of our site are smart enough to know it was going to happen, there were too many denials for it not to be true.

The Rangers officially unloaded Kotalik (who is signed for two more years at three million per year) and Higgins; who while he was a great character guy, just never seemed to work out with the Rangers. Oh and don't forget to give us props for breaking the story!

As I said on my radio show tonight whatever rituals Glen Sather had to pull to get this done are beyond me. I have no idea what Calgary saw in Kotalik, although I can understand them dealing for Higgins. And I can't help but smile at the fact that Calgary actually made this trade. So what if Olli Jokinen doesn't work out in New York? He is a UFA at the end of the year and the Rangers can let him walk if they want. As for Brandon Prust? He brings grit and ferocity to table. Also note that he has as many fights (18) as Kotalik does minuses (-18 rating for the Rangers this year).  

Jokinen will be the center that the Rangers have been longing for, and the removal of Higgins will allow the Rangers some room to maneuver with Donald Brashear and Aaron Voros. If you all want to send flowers to Daryl Sutter by the way I will look for his address, thank God there are no "backsies" in hockey!

Will this move help the Rangers this season? It should, but even if it doesn't it's a low risk trade. The worst case scenario is that Jokinen walks at the end of the year and the Rangers retain Prust; thus nullifying them of Kotalik and his contract. Best case scenario? Jokinen works wonders with Gaborik, adds some scoring punch and re-signs with the Rangers. Either way you have to be happy with the move from a Rangers perspective.

As for Calgary? I can't help but laugh ...

[Note by Jim Schmiedeberg, 02/02/10 7:41 AM EST  the official release on the trade]

NEW YORK RANGERS ACQUIRE FORWARDS OLLI JOKINEN AND BRANDON PRUST FROM CALGARY FLAMES
In exchange for forwards Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik

New York, February 2, 2010 – New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the Rangers have acquired forwards Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust from the Calgary Flames, in exchange for forwards Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik.

Jokinen, 31, has skated in 56 games for Calgary this season, tallying 11 goals and 24 assists for 35 points, along with 53 penalty minutes and a plus-two rating.  He is tied for third in the NHL with five shootout tallies, including one game deciding goal.  He ranks second on the team in assists (24), third in points (35) and is tied for third in goals (11). Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Kings with the third overall pick in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, Jokinen has eclipsed the 30-goal mark four times in his career, most recently in 2007-08 when he recorded 34, including 18 power play goals which ranked third in the NHL.

The 6-3, 207-pounder enjoyed his finest NHL season in 2006-07, establishing career-highs in goals (39), assists (52), points (91), plus/minus rating (plus-18), and shots (351).  He ranked second in the NHL in shots, tied for seventh in game winning goals (eight), 11th in goals, and ranked 14th in points.  In 855 career NHL games, Jokinen has recorded 248 goals and 305 assists for 553 points, along with 847 penalty minutes. The Kuopio, Finland native is the Florida Panthers all-time franchise leader in goals (188), assists (231), points (419) and consecutive games played (376).

Jokinen will represent Finland at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada and will be making his third Olympic appearance (2002, 2006, 2010).  He helped lead Finland to the Silver Medal at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy, tying for the tournament lead with six goals and ranking sixth with eight points in eight games.  In addition, Jokinen was a member of the Silver Medal-winning Team Finland at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.

Prust, 25, has skated in 43 games with Calgary, registering one goal and four assists, along with 98 penalty minutes and a plus-six rating.   His 98 penalty minutes lead the team, while his plus-six rating ranks second.  The 5-11, 195-pounder ranks second in the NHL in fighting majors with 18.

Prust, who helped lead the London Knights to the Memorial Cup in 2005, appeared in 36 games for Calgary and the Phoenix Coyotes last season, recording one goal and two assists, along with 108 penalty minutes.  He began the season with Calgary before being traded to Phoenix along with Matthew Lombardi and a first round pick, in exchange for Jokinen on March 9, 2009.  He was dealt back to Calgary, in exchange for Jim Vandermeer on June 27.  The London, Ontario native was originally selected by Calgary, in the third round, 70th overall, in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

Higgins has skated in 55 games this season, registering six goals and eight assists for 14 points, along with 32 penalty minutes.  He was acquired from Montreal along with Ryan McDonagh, Doug Janik and Pavel Valentenko, in exchange for Scott Gomez, Tom Pyatt and Mike Busto on June 30, 2009.

Kotalik has appeared in 45 games this season, recording eight goals and 14 assists for 22 points, along with 38 penalty minutes and a minus-18 rating.  He signed with New York as an unrestricted free agent on July 9, 2009.