Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Jokinen Heading to the Big Apple

2009/2010 NHL Statistics
To New YorkPositionAgeGPGoalsPoints2010 Cap Hit2011 Cap Hit
Olli JokinenForward31561135$5.25 millionUFA
Brandon PrustForward254315$500,000RFA
To CalgaryPositionAgeGPGoalsPoints2010 Cap Hit2011 Cap Hit
Ales KotalikForward3145822$3 million$3 million
Christopher HigginsForward2655614$2.25 millionUFA

Another big deal for the Flames officially went down after the team was shutout by the Flyers on Monday night. This deal was on the tip of everyone's tongue on Sunday night, when the details broke that it was in the works. I have a feeling that due to how late the trade was going to happen, that players would not be able to arrive in time for the Flames' liking and it was held up until after their game. Sure enough, there it was... Olli Jokinen is no longer a Flame. Jokinen and Brandon Prust are off to the Big Apple for disgruntled winger, Ales Kotalik and impending UFA, Christopher Higgins.

On the surface, this is another deal shifting problems around. The Flames were obviously not happy with his points to cap hit ratio and the Rangers were arguably feeling the same from the two players coming back, but especially not happy with Kotalik, since a big huff was made that he wouldn't be continuing on with the team on their current road trip. Kotalik has been a healthy scratch more often than not of late.

How Jokinen is going to fit in with the Rangers is a little bit of a mystery to me, especially when they have some scoring lines that do have some good chemistry already, albeit inconsistently. I wonder if he'll slot in between Marian Gaborik and Vaclav Prospal to start, trying to be a number one centre and then move down the line. Prust should slot in in the checking roles straight away.

The rumour mill is a buzz again on Tuesday morning about what the Flames are going to do with Kotalik, as there is some suggestion that he's in the process of being flipped. A bigger deal, perhaps? Higgins should be able to jump into a third line role to start with the Flames, lessening his responsibilities a little.

Salary CapSo, let's talk cap hits shall we? We'll start in Calgary where the annual hit was only discounted slightly for the Flames right away. The club now has a gluttony of forwards on their roster after this deal, some of which can be disposed of easily to the minors, but if there are more deals in the mix, then subtraction through addition is easily done. If we were talking annual hit right now, the Flames would be over the 23-man roster limit, but just a shade underneath the cap ceiling, without taking into effect discounts for injuries. With all these deals now, I'm not going to sit and figure that all out.

I can, however, look further into the future and say that as of now, the Flames have added another $3 million to their projected 2011 total, where they now stand at $43.4 million for 14 players. Free agency should be kind to the Flames, in terms of flexibility still.

The Rangers, on the other hand, they are still battling cap issues from an annual number perspective. They haven't been able to take many discounts in terms of the Long Term Injury Reserve this season, so they'll likely be looking to start demoting players and use a limited roster for those reasons (my speculation, of course). The Rangers are in no way firm in their playoff spot at the moment, so another change to help the club should certainly be in the cards today.

In 2011, the Rangers are looking about the same as the Flames, also sitting at 14 players signed on for next season at an approximate cap hit of $45.7 million, just a little bit higher, but not a lot to sneeze at.

ImplicationsA couple players in the Draft flipped in this deal, as Olli Jokinen is a member of Ryan's team and Ales Kotalik is a member of Trevor's. Ryan, who currently sits in 10th spot in the standings is definitely hoping that Jokinen finds some new life in the Big Apple, while Trevor is likely not bothered by the Kotalik move, mired down in last place.

On the Sheet, Jokinen was taken three times, but I would have to guess by teams not really close to the money. There are big points missed out if Jokinen is on your team. Kotalik was taken twice and Higgins was taken four times, so there is a new Flames connection for some teams in the pool here as well. Fancy a trade yet?

This trade is a laugher, in my opinion. All these two teams are doing is exchanging their problems, but the Rangers did well enough to get Brandon Prust, likely as the price the Flames had to pay to get Olli Jokinen off their hands. Prust is a quality grinding winger who can stand up for his teammates in the tough times and drop the gloves with any taker. The Rangers have missed that ability, along with the good two-way presence Prust seems to bring as well. He should be a good fit anywhere.

Nevertheless, this deal does tend to revolve around the big name players of the deal and believe it or not, I think the Rangers have got a little bit more of potential upside in this deal than the Flames. The Rangers are asking a former top-line market player to pick up his game on a team that likes to skate and play European hockey, which Jokinen could very well do. For the Flames, they have to deal with a pair of medium-sized bust players. Kotalik has seen some time under the defensive thumb of Lindy Ruff in Buffalo, but Higgins will have a brand new experience under the teaching of Brent Sutter. I don't personally see this as a good fit at all.

Only time will tell. Thankfully, there will be no shortage of speculation.

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