Of course, not long after I finished the Peepin' Foes and watched the rest of the Calgary game, the trade we've all been waiting for has finally gone through: the Rangers have dealt Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins to the Flames for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust. Sorry to see Higgins go but this trade is a win for the Blueshirts. Kotalik's New York experiment was not unlike Valeri Kamensky's at the turn of the millennium - the guy put up points but that contribution wasn't enough to overcome his defensive weaknesses and he didn't get the ice time he wanted. As for Higgins, as I have always said, at least he tried. Smithtown's hustle was admirable, but his inability to score was distressing (at best).
So in return for those guys, the Rangers add a playmaking center in Jokinen who clearly needed a change of scenery. The guy had been a all-world talent for a span but somehow lost that of late. But if there is a single coach in the NHL who believes that Olli Jokinen can still be a star, John Tortorella has to be it. Post-lockout, Tortorella saw Jokinen skate against his Lightning on Florida 23 times and Jokinen scored 33 points in those games, including six three-point nights. The last two times he played against the Rangers, he grabbed an assist in each game (one with Phoenix on Nov. 24, 08 and one with Calgary Nov. 7, 09).
Now Torts can slot Jokinen in the middle between Prospal and Gabby, and can slide Dubi down to the second line. A second unit of Dubi, Cally and Avery could be outright scary. Dru or Arty can get slotted out on the wing on the third line with Lisin while you put Boyle, Prust and @Voros34 out as a don't-f@#k-with-us, grind-it-out fourth line. Or mix them in with the third line "talent" to balance the bottom two lines out. Seeing as Prust can fight, this could also hopefully be the end of Brashear's stay on Broadway, which would make this deal an outright victory - even if Jokinen never scores a single point.
Sorry for the Photoshops, they were quite rushed.