The Monday Wrap


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A busy day for the Calgary Flames has fans talking about two key issues…what’s next for Ales Kotalik?  And where are things going with Ian White?  That’s because the Flames placed Kotalik on waivers while White was among restricted free agents qualified by the team.

All we know on the Kotalik front is that he’s been placed on waivers.  What that means is anybody’s guess.  TSN reports that the move was made with the purpose of buying out the 31 year old forward, but at this point, that’s no guarantee.  All we know at this point is that if Kotalik clears waivers, it’ll happen sometime on Tuesday afternoon.

Honestly though, nobody thinks Kotalik is getting claimed on waivers.  To me, it seems like a move to maybe give the Flames some options.  Honestly, none of the options really come out on the "overwhelmingly positive" side of things.  So just what are those options?

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Well, if the TSN story is correct, they could buy Kotalik out.  That would mean two thirds of his remaining contract (or $4 million) would be spread out over four years at a cap hit of $1 million per season.  If this happens, it’s a glaring blunder on the track record of GM Darryl Sutter.  Kotalik was acquired along with pending UFA Chris Higgins on February 1st in a deal that sent forwards Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust to the New York Rangers.  I still don’t blame Sutter for making the initial deal with Phoenix to bring in Jokinen; so it didn’t work out, we found out Jokinen was the opposite of a good fit.  However, a buy out scenario would turn the entire situation into an outright disaster.  My contention was right from the very start to not trade Jokinen, and let his hefty cap hit run out at the end of the season.  That didn’t happen and instead you have a cap hit of $3 million with Kotalik OR dead, unmovable weight for four straight seasons.  At least with the $3 million hit, you have a body.

The Flames could try to bury Kotalik in the minors, the same way they did two years ago with Anders Erickson.  That scenario would be good for the cap, as his $3 million wouldn’t count.  However, for the pocket books, it wouldn’t be as pretty, as you’d be paying a guy substantial NHL money to play in the American Hockey League.  But, the Flames ownership group has been willing to take financial hits before if they beileved it was best for their on-ice product.  Would Kotalik even accept a demotion to Abbotsford next season?  Who knows.  If there was a demotion and the Flames wanted to call him up, Kotalik would then go on re-entry waivers.  In that case, a team could claim him for only $1.5 million (half the cap hit) while the Flames would eat the other half.

Or, Kotalik could just be on the team next season.  It happened a couple seasons ago when Chicago put goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin on waivers…nobody claimed him, so he kept on playing with the team.  That is also a possiblity.  So what’s best case?  To me, have him on the roster, see what you have for the first little bit of next season, then make your move.  The minors will still be an option at that time, and who knows, maybe he starts okay and has a little trade value.  We can all wish right?  I think it would be a mistake to buy him out, and once again, it would be evidence of a short-sighted move…"bring him in now, we’ll deal with the other two years in the summer."  However, I think he will be bought out…why else put him on waivers now?

As for Ian White, no surprise he’s been qualified.  The other players tendered offers were goalies Henrik Karlsson and Matt Keetley; defencemen Gord Baldwin and Matt Pelech; forwards Kris Chucko, Brett Sutter, and J.D. Watt.  This means the Flames will retain the rights of the players even if a new contract isn’t signed prior to July 1st.

Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos cited his sources today on Twitter, saying the Flames and White’s camp continue to make progress on a multi-year deal; it’s thought a new contract could be reached before free agency opens on Canada Day.  We’ll see if that’s true.

  • I concur. With the $2M you’d save, all your likely to do is replace the 10 goals he would have had anyway. Better off to keep him in the lineup and hope he bounces back. If he does, great, if not, send him down then and you’ll free up about the same amount of cap space for the deadline.

    Here’s hoping this is just a ploy to try and get Kotalik to take a hint and go to the KHL this year.

    • Here’s hoping this is just a ploy to try and get Kotalik to take a hint and go to the KHL this year.

      Ha, wishful thinking isn’t always bad though. That’s why I wonder how Kotalik would take it if he was demoted.

  • icedawg_42

    Im willing to give the guy a chance (I grumble under my breath trying to ignore the price tag). He does have a hell of a shot, and at times he DID seem to be physical, but it really seemed to me that after he took that misconduct for not being tied down for a fight, and I seem to remember he took a whollop from someone else, he really shied away after that. I hope he’s honest and means it when he says he’s embarrassed and driven to prove himself.

    • It is absolutely fact that EVERY issue this guy has is between the ears, because Kotalik has the ability to be a a whole lot more effective than he has been. But when he struggles with confidence, his on-ice play is wretched.

      If he comes in to a full training camp and can get some momentum going, maybe he’s not terrible. If he is, then you can try the minors route.

  • Assuming Sutter is aiming at a buy out, it probably means he has some moves in mind for the summer (see: the next two weeks) which will require some space, particularly once White and/or Higgins are re-signed. The easiest way to make cap space so the club can have some breathing room now (outside of trading someone like Sarich) is either having someone pick Kotalik up on waivers or buying him out.

    The demoting option is a very sensible one in the long-term, but it doesn’t help the Flames current budgetary bloat, which significantly hampers Sutter’s ability to operate during the off-season.

    • The easiest way to make cap space so the club can have some breathing room now (outside of trading someone like Sarich) is either having someone pick Kotalik up on waivers or buying him out.

      And therein lies the problem…there seems to very rarely be any thought of how a certain move affects the team down the road. Just like the one that brought Kotalik here…”we can deal with it later” is not a good way to run your team.

  • dustin642

    So, I am a little confused (as always).
    I do not think that Sutter will buy Kotalik out, and that he will follow the same way as Eriksson, Warrener, Nilsson ect. Just bury him in the minors, try to moved him later. Now just to clarify, if he clears waivers, he is then demoted to the minors and A) Has no say in the matter (contract stipulations) and B) His $3Mil salary does not count towards the cap?
    Also, are players protected from being claimed off waivers? Like take Kotalik for example, he has a limited no trade clause, so there are a couple teams in the league that he can not be traded to. So if he were to get claimed by one of those teams that he does not want to be dealt to, can he do anything about it?

  • @Dustin. No…he can’t do anything if he’s claimed on re-entry waivers.

    That’s not an attractive option for the Flames, either, however. In fact, I assume that were he to be sent to the minors when the season starts, he won’t be recalled.

  • Nobody has talked about this guy going to Russia. If you are him and you are being buried in the minors, no NHL team will pick you up (for free), and you are almost 32 why wouldn’t you head over seas and pick up a decent contract now rather then devaluing yourself for two years in the minors and then making a go of it at 34?

      • Canucks Suck

        Not if I could get 3-million+ playing elsewhere. Perhaps I am simply naive and have too much faith in Sutter, but I really don’t believe he acquired Kotalik without a solid plan to remove that salary.

        If you recall, Kotalik never wanted to come to Calgary and there was a significant delay in clearing the NTC.

        I think this has been in the cards since the day of the trade. Sutter managed to remove Jokinen, acquire Higgins, and take a chance on Kotalik in a hail marry effort of making the playoffs.

        If he goes the KHL route as planned then you clear his salary and have a chance at Higgins. Your still a step better then waiving good-by to the Joker.

        Worst case (probably supported by your ownership) you park him in the minors and you take a shellacking from internet bloggers the world (or at least city) over.

        That said, I could be eating boot in September if he is still wearing the Flaming C.

  • Totally agree with you, Pat. Buying Kotalik out is only going to hurt the team in the long run. If you wait till the start of the season, and Kotalik plays relatively well, the Flames could try shopping him. If he plays like he has for the FLames, hello Abbotsford.

    • I can’t tell if that’s a jab at the Flames or if you’re serious, but no. :p And Higgins’ recent ability to put the puck in the net has been about the equivalent of Kotalik, but the advanced stats apparently say that Higgins is a good guy to have on the team (at the very least as a checker, and possibly a checker with decent offensive ability given a bit of a bounce-back).

        • RCN

          He’s like a Pisani but better… solid two-way player with some scoring ability. However, after scoring 20 a couple times, he seems to have dried up somewhat… can play against tough comp and still come away looking decent defensively.

          • I liked Pisani to bad he has health issues. Sounds like Higgins will fit in with the rest then hahah ( sorry I had to ). I would really like to have Rene up in Edmonton great hockey player. Buying out Kotalik is the best option, you guys really need to get rid of him. Why did Sutter make that deal ? Wasn’t Jokenin a UFA at the end of the year ?

            I like the flames nation it’s kinda like going behind enemy lines…..

          • RCN

            I don’t think there’s a single person who can figure out a good reason for Sutter to have made the NYR Jokinen trade, unless he was praying that a change of scenery would boost Higgins/Kotalik back to their previous scoring numbers.

          • Why did Sutter make that deal ? Wasn’t Jokenin a UFA at the end of the year ?

            Dude, if I could answer that question, I’d be an NHL GM myself. Even if Kotalik doesn’t get bought out, still one of the most mind-bending moves I’ve seen. If does get bought out, it goes from being a bad trade to an unmitigated disaster.

  • Yeah, me too. Although concensus amongst me and people seems to be that Staios is going to be in the minors most likely anyway, so I’m not particularly worried on that front.

    There were locker room rumours regarding Jokinen, but considering how late in the season it was already, it still seems like a poor trade to me.

    • I like Higgins for a lot of other things he does out there…I really believe you can sign the guy rather cheap (he’s coming off a few down years), and if you put him with Langkow for a full season, I think you could have a really solid duo that would be tough to play against.

  • Canucks Suck

    i’m obviously WAY late to the party here but are we not overlooking the possibility that kotalik has a no MOVEMENT clause, not a no TRADE clause ? i’m not certain here, but i’m guessing it’s possible that demotion is out of the question.

    placing him on waivers is yet another indication that darryl sutter completely effed this team last year in a continuously baffling series of moves.