Glen Sather did his Cal Naughton Jr./Magic Man impression by making Scott Gomez disappear in the offseason, and now he’s taken part of that bounty (ok, bust/underachiever/good-for-nothing, take your pick) that he stole from Montreal and shipped off Chris Higgins along with free-agent blunder Ales Kotalik to Calgary for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust. It seems like a good trade for the Rangers, but how many times is Sather going to have to get rid of his mistakes (Gomez, Kotalik, etc.)? I guess we’ll just have to hope it’s not the last time.
The main positive of this trade for the Rangers is the jettisoning of Kotalik’s three-year $9 million contract. They also erase Higgins from the roster (he’s an unrestricted free agent after this season). Whether fair or not, Kotalik was a healthy scratch much of the time lately, and Higgins didn’t do much of anything after given chance after chance and plenty of ice time. Maybe they’ve both just been unlucky, but all the Blueshirts lose are two ineffective players.
And what do they pick up? The most important thing is what they didn’t acquire: An expensive long-term contract. They get Jokinen, who’s been described as selfish, an underachiever and a bad teammate. But more importantly, he’s a free agent after this season. He may give the team some short-term potential, and will most likely start out centering Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal. His 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) would place him third on the Rangers (and one less point than Higgins and Kotalik combined). So he could give the team a much-needed offensive boost. How will he fit in inside the clubhouse? And how will John Tortorella handle him? Who knows? But if it doesn’t work out, he’ll be gone at the end of the season anyway. Of course, there’s always the danger that he plays really well, and Sather signs him to a stupid contract. But that’s always the danger with Sather lurking around these parts.
The Rangers also obtained Prust. His most important stats: 98 penalty minutes and 18 fighting majors. I’m more excited about him than Jokinen. And hopefully he will displace Donald Brashear and not Aaron Voros.
So the Rangers pick up some short-term offensive potential and a fighter, and they lose two players who didn’t do much of anything. But the most important aspect of the transaction was freeing up some salary-cap space. Higgins (read: Gomez) and Kotalik were two of Sather’s past miscues, but at least he may be trying to clean up his own mess. Keep going, Glen. Next!