LOS ANGELES----Olli Jokinen was once an Islander. Now he’s a Ranger.
In the first major shakeup of a wildly uneven season for the Blueshirts, a deal to acquire the Finnish centerman and feisty winger Brandon Prust from the Calgary Flames for the underachieving forwards Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins was finalized early this morning after almost 24 hours of delays.
Both Jokinen and Prust played for the Flames at home against the Flyers last night but are expected to be in the lineup tonight when the Rangers face the Kings tonight here at
Kotalik, the veteran right wing who signed a $9-million, three-year contract last summer with a limited no-trade clause, had included the Flames as one of three teams to which he could not be dealt, but waived that clause. The former Sabre, known for a blistering shot from the point, couldn’t revitalize the Rangers’ power play and his defensive flaws stranded him in coach John Tortorella’s doghouse. He was a healthy scratch fro eight of the lasgt nine games. Kotalik, who was sent to New York Saturday night from Phoenix while the deal was being brokered, is due $6 million over the next two seasons.
Higgins, the Smithtown native who arrived from
Jokinen, 31, an unrestricted free agent this summer who is earning $5.25 million, has 11 goals and 24 assists, but hasn’t regained the effectiveness he showed when he scored 111 goals in three seasons with
The 6-foot-3 Jokinen, who was traded with Roberto Luongo for Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish in 2000 could center the No. 1 line with the team’s leading scorer, Marian Gaborik, and Ryan Callahan or Vinny Prospal. Prust will push Aaron Voros and Donald Brashear for ice time. Donald Brashear or another fourth-liner.
The Rangers (25-24-7) are 1-1 on this West Coast trip and face the red-hot Kings (33-19-3), who have won six straight and are in fourth place in the Western Conference, in the final leg here in Southern California tonight. Henrik Lundqvist back in net tonight after missing the previous two games with a stomach flu.