Report: Rangers Could Send Ales Kotalik to Calgary in Deal for Olli Jokinen

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With both the NHL and NBA trade deadlines approaching, the New York Rangers and New York Knicks were thought to have two different strategies. After Monday, that perception may have to change.

While it’s no secret that Donnie Walsh and the Knicks are on a mission to open cap space for the lauded 2010 NBA free-agent class, their Madison Square Garden roommates were supposed to be buyers making a playoff push.

According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the Rangers could be doing a little bit of both. A deal on the table between the Rangers and Flames would see struggling wingers Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins shipped north of the border to Calgary in return for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust.

While Jokinen could prove to be the solution for the Rangers’ hole at center if he returned to the form he showed in Florida (91 points in 2006-07), he has been struggling this season for the Flames, tallying just 11 goals and 24 assists. Elliotte Friedman of the CBC notes the value that the Jokinen has with his expiring $5.25 million contract.

It’s economics usually reserved for the NBA.

Glen Sather, usually the New York GM subject to the vilest insults from the Garden’s upper sections (at least now that Isaiah Thomas is out of town), would be bringing in a fading star, precisely what critics say had kept the Rangers out of the playoffs so many times before the NHL lockout. The difference this time around? In just a few short months, that star will be gone to free agency, and the Rangers will have over $5 million to be spent on upgrades for 2010-11.

Throw in the dropping of Kotalik, who is owed $3 million for both 2010-11 and 2011-12, and it’s a solid economical swap for the Blue Shirts. Kotalik (22 points) and Higgins (14 points) have both been wildly disappointing additions this season and Kotalik has even been a healthy scratch in recent games, though he should get a chance to play if a deal sends him to Calgary.

Sounds like a decent deal for both sides, right? One problem: In addition to giving him $3 million a year, Sather decided to bequeath unto Kotalik a limited no-trade clause that includes just three teams to which he must grant permission before a deal can be finalized. It just so happens that the Flames are on that list that requires Kotalik’s OK. Some reports claim that the winger would exercise his right to stay out of Calgary. According to TSN, though, Kotalik is willing to waive the no-trade clause and allow the deal with the Flames to go through.

TSN also reports that the deal was put on hold by the Flames, as Calgary apparently wanted Jokinen to play Monday against the Flyers. (The Flames fell 3-0 at home against Philadelphia.) Whether Sather and Flames GM Darryl Sutter pick up their phones again Tuesday remains to be seen, but the final decision may rest with Calgary.

Early reports had former Boston University defenseman Matt Gilroy headed from New York to Calgary where he could conceivably slide into the spot vacated by Dion Phaneuf’s trade to the Maple Leafs on Sunday. Brooks' reports that his sources denied that the blue-liner was involved in any deal.

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