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?
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.