In a controversial move that has many scratching their heads, the Calgary Flames have traded away Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust for Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins. Higgins and Kotalik, former Rangers, will join a Calgary team that finds itself in the middle of a significant shake-up as the Sutters make a bid for the post-season.
The trade was sitting around in the rumour mills for quite a while as it seemed that Kotalik was holding out on the deal. After Calgary’s 3-0 loss to the Flyers, however, the trade was announced as official and the move was on.
The makeover in Calgary builds on the trades made with the Leafs over the weekend. The Flames swapped defensive stalwart Dion Phaneuf, Keith Aulie and Fredrik Sjostrom for a pile of Leafs including Ian White, Jamal Mayers, Niklas Hagman, and Matt Stajan.
A lot of Flames fans are currently wondering just what the Sutters are thinking, as these trades appear to downgrade the Flames in terms of size and grit. It seems management is gearing up for a smaller, quicker team to help feed Jarome Iginla the puck and boost power play production, but whether Brent Sutter can actually coach such a team remains to be seen.
The Jokinen deal makes even less sense from a Calgary perspective, as Kotalik is far from an ideal player for the Flames system. He’s an inconsistent, unimpressive forward and he lacks the grit and personality of Jokinen. Adding Higgins to the mix, a slick and quick forward good on the kill, doesn’t particularly sweeten the pot when one considers that Sutter also tossed in Brandon Prust.
Flames fans are still scratching their heads about the way the deal went down, too, as both Jokinen and Prust were seemingly asked to take the ice in the Philly loss all while knowing that they were being shipped off to New York as soon as the game ended. In any event, a lot of people are of the opinion that Calgary’s 3-0 was exactly what Sutter’s club deserved after such a classless display.
Objectively, the deal seems to benefit the Rangers the most. Calgary takes on Kotalik’s absurd three-year $9 million salary, while the Rangers get Jokinen’s $5.5 million salary with an expiry date set for season’s end. In other words, the Blueshirts are taking little risk with Olli. Prust, too, represents a big step up in the size department and will help flesh out a Rangers checking line.
If for no other reason than for cap savings, the Rangers come out on top here. It’s hard to say whether Jokinen will benefit them offensively, although his goal total does help boost the Rangers in scoring. Kotalik and Higgins, on the other hand, will be pretty big risks in Calgary. The Flames will hope Higgins regains some of his game in Calgary, of course, but this Kotalik angle still remains really, really perplexing.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.