In (Modest) Defense of Ales Kotalik

Calgary Flames v Ottawa Senators


In the Nation roundtable, Ales Kotalik was identified by myself (and others) as budgetary deadweight that would best be expunged from the roster in order to free up some cap dollars. Frankly, I stand by that conclusion. Kotalik is a bad bet to provide value for his $3M/year salary over the next two seasons. While he’s been a 20 goal scorer in the past, he’s never played against tough competition consistently, meaning he’s done most of his damage against third liners and on the power play. In addition, aside from a 62 point outburst for the Sabres back in 2006-05, Kotalik has hovered around the 40 point/season range, meaning he doesn’t really do that much damage anyways. Also, he turns 32 in December.

That said, there’s some chance that Kotalik won’t be completely useless should the Flames fail to get rid of him.

His season for the Rangers was, to be blunt, awful. The percentages kicked the crap out of him last year: he scored 11 goals on 172 shots (6.4 SH%), which is well below a career average that hovered above 10% previously. His on-ice SH%+SV% (PDO) was also an abysmal 95.9. That was the 19th worst number in the league this year amongst regular NHLers. As such, we can reasonably expect some sort of bounce back from Kotalik this year, simply as a function of regression to the mean – there’s little chance the hockey gods continue to crap on him to this extent.

In addition, while he didn’t exactly light the lamp during his time in Calgary, Kotalik at least showed that he’s not bad enough to sink a line by himself. In Robert Cleave’s look at Chris Higgins possession numbers here, he shows that Langkow+Higgins were a pretty formidable duo, at least in terms of moving the puck north. Kotalik was the typical right winger on that line and while I’m somewhat dubious about his contributions to driving possession, at least he wasn’t dragging the trio down.

He’s not terrible is the gist of the article I guess and the Flames may get the benefit of a rebound season on top of that. If Brent can play him in friendly circumstances (say, a third unit with Backlund and Glencross or Dawes that gets easier matchups at ES and some nice PP time), then perhaps the team will garner some value from that contract (probably not full value, but that’s where we’re at).


  • Oyo

    hmmmm i still think for hte money he gets he does NOT bring enough to the table. the flames seriously need to re-evaluate what a winning team looks like. forwards are a must must must!! and we flat out do not have enough producers

  • He was billed as something of a big and hitting player when the Oil got him, but Kotalik was a perimeter player here, which is why I was so glad to see him go.

    But I’d take him back for Patrick O’Sullivan and Ethan Moreau

  • Balthazar

    @ Kent

    you’re quote: “there’s an outside chance he won’t be totally useless” is a beautiful statement of luke warm support.

    kind of like: “she wasn’t the ugliest girl in the bar”

    You rightly point out that if he has a near career season we should expect ~50 points.

    About the same as Stajan.


  • I failed to mention that Kotalik has been a better than average shooter in the S/O his whole career, so he could provide some value there should the Flames gain an extra point or two out of the skills competition.

  • I dunno. With Kotalik, I think the question is ‘are you going to give an honest effort?’

    Dudes 6’1, 230. Thats a large man, but as the Oiler fan alluded too, he plays a little mans game. And for a Czech, that is awful. They usually don’t play small. That needs to change if the Flames are going to get any value for him.

    I would usually say that this is the type of guy you have to get on and challenge, but dudes older, he may just not care.

    Which, when you think about it, might make him a perfect fit on this team.

  • When Kotalik came here, I still can’t get over that it was HIM? The Rangers where about to waive him. Still, sure he’s not totally useless, but when you have less than $4 Million in cap space and 5 players to sign. . . thanks again. He never appeared to be a player who gave 110%, just enough so that managment could say, “well he’s not too terrible.” But “not too terrible” is not worth $3M for 2 more years. Remember he had ONE, “good” season. Just a look at his stats, he’s averaged about 0.5 points per game during his career. Last year with the Rangers he averaged just under that, with Calgary he averaged. . . less than 0.2 PPG. I know 25 games isn’t alot but in todays NHL you have to make quick descisions. He’s a goner, as Jokinen should have been.

  • He’s way worse than jokinen. You could at least keep jokinen, cuz he was a UFA at the end of the year, but kotalik has 2 more years at 3 million; thats the same as hagman (money), but hagman is so much better, because of his effort and his output. Kotalik will be even worse than jokinen, until the flames decide to buy him out.

  • CTown

    can someone please explain to me the just of the trade with the rangers. what exactly were we trying to accomplish? were we that desperate to pick up higgins who happens to be a UFA that we also had to pick up kotalik for 2 additional years? just so we could get rid of jokinen who also happened to be a UFA and a very serviceable 4 liner that at least the fans could appreciate with his hard work. too much of a net loss for the flames here. this trade alone should result in someone being fired. I wish someone from the flames could explain this to the fans.

  • CTown

    Kent: Speaking of things, and related to the Flames in only the vaguest of ways, I know you had a pretty big appreciation for Ponikarovsky prior to, and around the time of the Phaneuf trade. After seeing what he’s done in PBurg, do you still have said appreciation?

    • I have only payed vague attention to the Pens games this offseason, so I can’t say much. It looks like his SH% has fallen into the toilet since moving (down around 5%) which is defenseman territory and probably not going to last forever.

      Salva counted Leafs scoring chance all year and he generally found that Poni drove the bus there, which is in line with what I saw and what the numbers suggest as well. As such, I’d be tempted to put his current struggles down as more bad bounces than anything else.

    • Not sure what this means, but the fact remains that I was one of the most vocal critics of the Jokinen-Kotalik trade. I think – and thought – it’s a terrible bet.

      However, I won’t close my eyes to the possibility that he may not be terrible next year. Worht $3M? Highly doubtful. But maybe he’ll be able to help the team win to some degree.

      • Nothing personal Ken. It’s all in good taste. And I’m not agruing that you were in favor of the Jokinen to the Rangers trade.

        At times it seems like you realize how far off you are and then pull back a little after some reflection. This article is case and point.

        I’m not saying Kotalik or Higgins are going to challenge Ovechkin for the Rocket trophy next year. What I am saying is their goals per game average is virtually identical to Jokinen’s over their respective careers. And in today’s present market, 20 goals equals 3 million.