Rangers ship Kotalik, Higgins to Flames
The Rangers shipped forwards Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik to the Flames in exchange for center Olli Jokinen and rugged winger Brandon Prust, a deal that was nearly consummated Sunday night but was delayed a day.
Kotalik's limited no-trade clause and his ability to nix the deal was partly responsible for the holdup, but he ultimately agreed to the move, a source told ESPN.com.
The trade call between both teams occurred following Calgary's game Monday night.
Higgins, Kotalik and Jokinen all are having disappointing seasons and now get fresh starts. Higgins and Jokinen are slated for unrestricted free agency July 1, while Kotalik has two more years on his contract, worth $3 million each year.
Prust will be a restriced free agent at the end of the season.
Jokinen, who along with Prust was in the Calgary lineup against Philadelphia, has 11 goals and 24 assists in 56 games this season. Prust posted one goal and four assists in 43 games with the Flames. He is second in the NHL with 18 fighting majors.
"You've got to play hard every time you go on the ice, no matter what kind of distractions you have going on," Jokinen said. "You play for that sweater -- the logo on the front of you -- so long as they haven't told you you're not part of the team."
The Rangers have been looking for a center to play with star winger Marian Gaborik.
The 31-year-old Jokinen, a Finnish Olympian, was acquired by Calgary from the Phoenix Coyotes at last year's trade deadline.
"Definitely, it's a slap in the face to get traded," Jokinen said as he left Pengrowth Saddledome Monday. "It was a long day. We heard everything [Sunday] night, I was kind of surprised. I wasn't expecting to get moved, but it's part of the business and I've got to move on."
Jokinen is earning $5.25 million this season in the final year of his contract. He scored eight goals in his first six games with the Flames last season and then was held off the scoresheet in the final 13 contests.
"Eleven months ago, when I got traded here I was pretty excited," said Jokinen, who has 248 goals and 305 assists in 854 NHL games with Los Angeles, Florida, Phoenix, Calgary and the New York Islanders. "I enjoyed my time here, and I was hoping I could stay here for the rest of my career.
"Like I say, it's a cruel business, but that's the way it goes. It comes with the salary. You make $5 million, 11 goals is not going to cut it."
The trade became a strong rumor on Sunday night.
"My phone was going off the hook last night, just waiting to hear confirmation and pacing around for hours. I guess I didn't sleep too well," Prust said. "Then you come out here and you have to get focused and get ready to help your team get two points.
"We're professionals and you've got to go about business a certain way. It was definitely a different way, but it's done now."
The Flames have busy in the past few days, also completing a seven-player swap with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday. Overall, the Flames have now acquired five forwards and a defenseman in the two trades while dealing away three forwards, a defenseman and a prospect. The shakeup in Calgary comes as the Flames try to avoid a second-half meltdown. They lost for the 10th time in 11 games (1-7-3) Monday night, 3-0 to the visiting Flyers and were booed off the ice at the buzzer.
Kotalik scored eight goals and set up 14 others in 45 games with the Rangers, but he was a healthy scratch for eight of the previous nine games.
He was sent back to New York on Sunday during the Rangers' three-game Western swing after being told a trade was imminent. The Rangers will conclude their trip Tuesday at Los Angeles.
Higgins had only six goals and eight assists in 55 games with New York. The Long Island native was the main player acquired by the Rangers in the deal that sent Scott Gomez to Montreal last June.
Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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