July 08 2009 11:34AM
Ales Kotalik impressed Oilers’ fans during his brief post-trade deadline cameo. He may also have impressed Oilers’ management enough that they want to bring him back.
There is a interview in Czech list today with Kotalik. In short, he said that he was offered a contract in Edmonton, but lower then he expected, but that they are still talking. He also got offers from few other teams. He also mentioned he is not considering going to KHL.
Take it for what it’s worth; I wasn’t able to verify the interview but then again I don’t speak Czech. On the positive side, it does fit with Steve Tambellini’s comments from July 1st:
"We've had brief discussions with Ales and his agent and we'll probably have a few more this week."
In any case, would it make sense for the Oilers to bring back Kotalik? The short answer is maybe. Let’s take a quick look at the top-six depth chart, assuming that the Oilers are able to land Dany Heatley:
Heatley – Horcoff – Hemsky O’Sullivan – Gagner - Nilsson
Looking at that list, where would the weak spot seem to be? It seems obvious to me that the player on the bubble would be Nilsson; of the smallish forwards, he’s the most inconsistent, and the one who had the lousiest season last year. Of interest here is that Ales Kotalik’s natural position is RW, and on top of that he would help address the lack of size on the second line.
I haven’t exactly been an outspoken supporter of Kotalik since the Oilers brought him in; mostly because a) he’s clearly not a first line player and b) the Oilers gave up a significant asset (second round pick in a deep draft) for a short-term rental. That said, as a complementary player to Gagner and O’Sullivan on the second line I could see Kotalik exceeding his even-strength results (as we’ve noted previously, Kotalik generally gets his points on the powerplay) from the last few seasons – he’d still be playing soft competition, but this time with the advantage of decent linemates.
There’s a second part to this situation that would make Kotalik a good signing. There have been rumours for the past year that the Oilers will move one of their offensive defenseman (Gilbert and Souray are the names commonly mentioned), either for help up front or simply for cap relief, and those rumours make sense. If one of those moves transpired, the Oilers would need a powerplay point-man, and Ales Kotalik happens to be one of the best in the business. Moreover, he’s a right-handed shot; while the Oilers have two very effective one-timers on the point (Visnovsky and Souray) both are left-handed shots, and pairing the two of them together last year often looked comical as a result.
Finally, Kotalik’s shootout acumen is the icing on the cake; he’s one of the best shootout performers in the NHL, and with the number of games that go past overtime that does matter quite a bit.
In short: this opinion is based on other moves the Oilers are likely to make (Nilsson, a puck-moving defenseman), but it makes a world of sense to bring back Ales Kotalik – particularly if the dollars (at a guess 2.5-3MM per season) work out.