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Rangers complete deal for Jokinen, Prust

The Rangers acquire center Olli Jokinen (pictured) and

The Rangers acquire center Olli Jokinen (pictured) and feisty winger Brandon Prust from Calgary early Tuesday morning for Smithtown native Chris Higgins and winger Ales Kotalik. (Jan. 27, 2010) Credit: AP

LOS ANGELES - Olli Jokinen once was 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 underachieving forwards Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins was finalized early Tuesday morning after almost 24 hours of delays.

Jokinen and Prust played for the Flames in a 3-0 loss to the Flyers in Calgary Monday night but are expected to be in the lineup Tuesday when the Rangers - who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday - face the Kings at Staples Center.

Kotalik, the veteran right wing who signed a three-year, $9-million 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 he 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. Kotalik, who was sent back to New York from Phoenix Saturday night while the deal was being brokered, is due $6 million over the next two seasons.

Higgins, the Smithtown product who arrived from Montreal in last summer's Scott Gomez trade, signed a one-year, $2.2- million contract, but he and Broadway never seemed to fit. He had three straight seasons with more than 20 goals with the Canadiens but had only six goals and eight assists in 55 games this season.

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 a three-season span with the Florida Panthers. Prust, a bottom-six winger who is unafraid to drop the gloves (18 fights), makes $500,000 and also is unrestricted this coming summer.

The 6-3 Jokinen, whom the Islanders traded to the Panthers (along 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.

Jokinen had 11 goals and 10 assists for the Islanders in 1999-2000. He had 202 goals and 229 assists in a six-year span for the Panthers and Flames heading into this season.

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 Tuesday night. Henrik Lundqvist will be back in net after missing the previous two games with a stomach flu.

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