Does It Make Sense To Bring Back Ales Kotalik?

Jonathan Willis
July 08 2009 11:34AM

Kotalik

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.

PunjabiOil over at Lowetide’s site passed along this link about the Oilers and Kotalik:

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.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
Avatar
#1 Shifty203
July 08 2009, 11:37AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

As much as I like Kotalik and don't really want to see him leave, managment has said before that we are too small and easy to play against. Kotalik will not help us there and I think we should be chasing a player that can agitate and put up a few points when paired with skilled players.

Avatar
#2 dyckster
July 08 2009, 11:39AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

IMO THIS IS GOOD NEWS!

Am I 1st to post?!

Avatar
#3 dyckster
July 08 2009, 11:39AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Damn it.

Avatar
#4 IgorUlanov
July 08 2009, 11:41AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

As 'big' as he is he sure doesn't play like it. He may add size on paper but he's not exactly a physical presence. Having said that,

Kotalik > Nilsson

If only because Kotalik honestly seems to give a crap with how he plays. His interviews and clear frustration of not contributing right away made me respect the guy a ton.

Avatar
#5 Archaeologuy
July 08 2009, 11:43AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

All those rumours of Gilbert + forward seem to have disappeared. I hope something awesome comes from left field on that front.

Avatar
#6 max fisher
July 08 2009, 11:43AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

i'd be very happy if they broght AK back. He seemed to have a bit of chemistry with Sammy, and the shootout success should not be overlooked.

Avatar
#7 rindog
July 08 2009, 11:44AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Shifty203: Since when is Kotalik hurting our size?

If we do get Heatley -Kotalik would be a perfect fit on the 2nd line and added much needed size on that line.

Avatar
#8 dyckster
July 08 2009, 11:46AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=284086

Saku Koivu - Good signing for The Ducks?

Avatar
#9 rindog
July 08 2009, 11:47AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ IgorUlanov:

Just because he doesn't hit doesn't mean he doesn't play big.

Kotalik is very good at using his size to protect the puck (which is where we need size on the top two lines).

Avatar
#10 Bob Cob
July 08 2009, 11:48AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Replace Mr. Ikea on the Second line with Kotalik, Kotalik has a heavier shot and Gagner likes to pass, makes sense to me.

Avatar
#11 Archaeologuy
July 08 2009, 11:50AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ dyckster: They would be pretty strong down the middle. Getzlaf Koivu Marchant

Getzlaf goes up against the best defenders, Marchant defends against the best defenders, and Koivu's line cleans up the mess.

Avatar
#12 Downright Fierce
July 08 2009, 11:52AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I, for one, would love to see Ales-2 on our team come fall. But only if he changes his number to 47.

Avatar
#13 The Towel Boy
July 08 2009, 11:53AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I would hope to see AK back. He seemed to enjoy the short time he was here and he brings some pretty good assets to the table.

Avatar
#14 Archaeologuy
July 08 2009, 11:53AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Archaeologuy wrote:

Marchant defends against the best defenders

ugh. i meant best offense

Avatar
#15 Asciutto
July 08 2009, 11:54AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

"(second round pick in a deep draft)"

A late 2nd round pick. Just think. Cam Abney could’ve been a 2nd-Round pick!

"particularly if the dollars (at a guess 2.5-3MM per season) work out."

I suspect the offer is under $2,000,000 per year. Kotalik's numbers were similar to Bertuzzi's and Bertuzzi was at $1,950,000.

"and I think we should be chasing a player that can agitate"

I don’t think "agitate" and "tougher" mean the same thing. Jordin Tootoo agitates. Kotalik wins the puck on the boards

Avatar
#16 Tim S
July 08 2009, 11:54AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

If they move out some contracts I am with you. If we do not get Heatley then signing Kotalik will just take away money that can be used to trade for a potential big name later on.

Avatar
#17 RobInALab
July 08 2009, 11:54AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I think it only works if we sign Heatley, or are willing to accept Kotalik on the first line. Hemmer got outspoken about not being happy at the same time as Kotalik started lighting it up on the second line with Sam. I don't think that was coincidence. He wouldn't be happy with a combination of Penner, Horcoff or O'Sullivan as partners if the Heatley trade falls flat.

Avatar
#18 Jonathan Willis
July 08 2009, 11:56AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

RE: Kotalik's Hitting Game

Take it for what it's worth, but here are the top five Oilers forwards in hits from last season:

1. Moreau: 126 2. Kotalik: 121 3. Stortini: 95 4. Penner: 77 5. O'Sullivan: 66

Now hits is a stat I don't overly trust, and from what I saw Kotalik wasn't the most effective hitter in the world, but he doesn't shy from contact.

Avatar
#19 Boundz
July 08 2009, 11:56AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I like it.

Avatar
#20 Jonathan Willis
July 08 2009, 11:57AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Asciutto wrote:

A late 2nd round pick. Just think. Cam Abney could’ve been a 2nd-Round pick!

Gold.

Avatar
#21 IgorUlanov
July 08 2009, 11:59AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Tim S wrote:

If they move out some contracts I am with you. If we do not get Heatley then signing Kotalik will just take away money that can be used to trade for a potential big name later on.

Everybody keeps talking about these 'bigger names' out there. The only forward of 'elite' note left through free agency is Tanguay. Not so sure if he's worth the dollars he will be asking for.

If you mean a bigger name through a trade, I would assume management exhausted that avenue at the draft. Not too many names out there that are available now. The only other way would be a late pick up at the deadline but that's not going to help us thorugh the first 3/4 of the season.

Avatar
#22 Shifty203
July 08 2009, 12:02PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Jonathan Willis: Jonathan Willis wrote:

RE: Kotalik’s Hitting Game Take it for what it’s worth, but here are the top five Oilers forwards in hits from last season: 1. Moreau: 126 2. Kotalik: 121 3. Stortini: 95 4. Penner: 77 5. O’Sullivan: 66 Now hits is a stat I don’t overly trust, and from what I saw Kotalik wasn’t the most effective hitter in the world, but he doesn’t shy from contact.

Sure he threw his body around a bit, but saying hes the second highest in hitting on what was one of the softest teams in the league isn't exactly a selling point. Its not so much about the size as much as it is about how he uses his size. My point was I would like to see a guy who can intimidate the other team a little more and put up some points. Ideally, Penner would probably be the best fit if he felt like getting off his ass. Colby Armstrong would have been nice if he was available. I was really excited when I heard those Tootoo rumours.

Avatar
#23 David S
July 08 2009, 12:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Kotalik I can see coming back. But everybody keeps penciling in O'Sullivan and to be honest I didn't see much to get excited with this guy. In fact, he wasn't exactly lighting 'em up for the most part.

Nilsson, well we know something's there. Its just a matter of if he'll figure out a way to bring it every night. O'Sullivan on the other hand? I'm wondering why everybody figures the guy is safe. He seems kinda weaksauce.

Avatar
#24 dyckster
July 08 2009, 12:06PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Kotalik could potentially contribute as much as Penner (hits, points...) for half the price.

Avatar
#25 Poo Czar
July 08 2009, 12:14PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Well, if he comes back I guess I can keep trotting out that "Kotalik my BALLS!" line I stole from someone else around here. That's still got some milage, right?

Avatar
#26 Jonathan Willis
July 08 2009, 12:16PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

David S wrote:

Kotalik I can see coming back. But everybody keeps penciling in O’Sullivan and to be honest I didn’t see much to get excited with this guy. In fact, he wasn’t exactly lighting ‘em up for the most part. Nilsson, well we know something’s there. Its just a matter of if he’ll figure out a way to bring it every night. O’Sullivan on the other hand? I’m wondering why everybody figures the guy is safe. He seems kinda weaksauce.

He's 24 and has recorded 40+ points for two years running. He can kill penalties, and has played against good players for someone so young.

He didn't look good in Edmonton over 19 games. I'm willing to bet that's the exception rather than the rule.

Avatar
#27 Jonathan Willis
July 08 2009, 12:17PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Shifty203:

Of course, the guys you mention are either a) more expensive (Penner, Armstrong) or b) lack the offense game to play in the top-six (Tootoo).

I guess what I'm saying is that while Kotalik doesn't fix the size/grit thing all by himself he's a bigger part of the solution than he is the problem.

Avatar
#28 dawgbone
July 08 2009, 12:19PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Shifty203 wrote:

Sure he threw his body around a bit, but saying hes the second highest in hitting on what was one of the softest teams in the league isn’t exactly a selling point. Its not so much about the size as much as it is about how he uses his size. My point was I would like to see a guy who can intimidate the other team a little more and put up some points. Ideally, Penner would probably be the best fit if he felt like getting off his ass. Colby Armstrong would have been nice if he was available. I was really excited when I heard those Tootoo rumours.

How does Tootoo fit that bill?

The Oilers need hockey players first and foremest... Tootoo isn't one and it's unlikely he ever will be.

Avatar
#29 spOILer
July 08 2009, 12:21PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

AK is much more of a shooter than a passer and is good along the boards. Both are qualities under-represented on the present corps. Tanguay is more of a passer and will command more cap bucks. I am in favour of this offer, although it makes me wonder about the implications for Penner, Nilsson and O'Sully. At least one of the three and possibly two would be out the door. Wonder what offer they have for Nilsson (ya gotta think there is one).

Avatar
#30 Mike Krushelnyski
July 08 2009, 12:23PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Kotalik is a nice piece to the puzzle and I'd like to see him back. It's too bad, but we really do need to sort out some other things (Heatley, Grebeshkov etc.) before making an offer to Kotalik it seems. The fact that he hasn't been signed by any other teams yet has got to a good thing though, right? I've got to believe he ranks pretty high in terms of offensive UFAs given all the other guys who have already signed contracts.

Avatar
#31 Ogden Brother
July 08 2009, 12:32PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Asciutto wrote:

“(second round pick in a deep draft)” A late 2nd round pick. Just think. Cam Abney could’ve been a 2nd-Round pick! “particularly if the dollars (at a guess 2.5-3MM per season) work out.” I suspect the offer is under $2,000,000 per year. Kotalik’s numbers were similar to Bertuzzi’s and Bertuzzi was at $1,950,000. “and I think we should be chasing a player that can agitate” I don’t think “agitate” and “tougher” mean the same thing. Jordin Tootoo agitates. Kotalik wins the puck on the boards

Welcome to ON Pierre.

Avatar
#32 NBOilerFan
July 08 2009, 12:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

JW - If the Heatley deal happens, Nilsson will be gone also and we wil still be tight against the cap in filling out the roster. So in order to fit Kotalik in (especially at $2.5+) we'd certainly have to be dealing Souray type money as well.

I like the Kotalik deal moreso if we don't deal for Heatley. Then I would still move Nilsson and go;

Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky O'Sullivan-Gagner-Cogliano Kotalik-MAP-Pisani Moreau-Brule/Betts-Stortini

With teh ability to move the deck chairs (Penner, Kotalik, O'Sullivan, Cogs) around as you may.

You didn't say if you like the Kotalik signing if we don't do the heatley deal.

Avatar
#33 Ogden Brother
July 08 2009, 12:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

As you said, I'd only take him back in responce to multiple other moves, ie 2+ top 6 forwards and one PMD being moved off the team.

Avatar
#34 Ogden Brother
July 08 2009, 12:36PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

David S wrote:

Kotalik I can see coming back. But everybody keeps penciling in O’Sullivan and to be honest I didn’t see much to get excited with this guy. In fact, he wasn’t exactly lighting ‘em up for the most part. Nilsson, well we know something’s there. Its just a matter of if he’ll figure out a way to bring it every night. O’Sullivan on the other hand? I’m wondering why everybody figures the guy is safe. He seems kinda weaksauce.

Wow, O'sully is 10X the player Nilsson is.

Avatar
#35 David S
July 08 2009, 12:44PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Ogden Brother wrote:

Wow, O’sully is 10X the player Nilsson is.

Maybe it's because I only watch Oilers games, but he looked pretty invisible after we got him last year. While you mention it, Nilsson looked pretty good in the latter part of the year, despite being an intermittent player. At the very least, he (Nilsson) deserves to be at camp. What he does with that opportunity is up to him. I've said it before, but I'd be shocked if he hasn't figured out that his next chance will likely be his last. Pretty good motivation you'd think.

Avatar
#36 NBOilerFan
July 08 2009, 12:45PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

David S wrote:

Kotalik I can see coming back. But everybody keeps penciling in O’Sullivan and to be honest I didn’t see much to get excited with this guy. In fact, he wasn’t exactly lighting ‘em up for the most part. Nilsson, well we know something’s there. Its just a matter of if he’ll figure out a way to bring it every night. O’Sullivan on the other hand? I’m wondering why everybody figures the guy is safe. He seems kinda weaksauce.

David - For me I seen O'Sully as a guy that not only contribute with goals, but can make plays and kill penalties. he was more dynamic then Nilsson, plus he looked to me to have a real good hockey sense on the ice. That might just be me, though.

He certainly is not a lock to be here though, he has good value and we may need the cap space depending on the Heatley deal. But I liked Nilsson alot and still keep O'Sully over him.

Avatar
#37 Andrew W
July 08 2009, 12:55PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Downright Fierce:

This is a late reply, but your suggestion is brilliant.

Well done, sir.

Avatar
#38 risto
July 08 2009, 12:56PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Kotalik happens if Heatley doesn't

Avatar
#39 DaveS
July 08 2009, 01:02PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Heatley, You can Kotalik my balls. Make a decision already!

Avatar
#40 Ccubed82
July 08 2009, 01:03PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Hey ON, first time posting, but a long time reader. Regardless of wether or not we get Heatley, i would like to see the team we have now start the season. I would like to see what we can do with our new coaching staff and the players we have now. I'd say give it 20-30 games. At that point if things are not going in a good direction, then changes have to be made. I think that we the fans are still viewing our Oilers as a MacT team. I would like to give it some time and see what Mr Quinn and Renney can do with the players we have.

Avatar
#41 Nick Dynasty
July 08 2009, 01:06PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

If you can get him signed for 2.5 I'd keep him for all the reasons JW mentioned already. But this is assuming Grebs doesn't get 4mil at arbitration...

Avatar
#42 Ccubed82
July 08 2009, 01:16PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

How about Nikolai Zherdev? It sounds like he is finished with the Rangers. TSN has him as a LW/RW, 6-2 205lbs. He is going to want 3.5 - 4.5 mill a year. Does anyone have a opinion on his future and if the Oilers would be interested. It would require a trade out of NY for him to come to Etown.

Avatar
#43 Ogden Brother
July 08 2009, 01:20PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Ccubed82 wrote:

How about Nikolai Zherdev? It sounds like he is finished with the Rangers. TSN has him as a LW/RW, 6-2 205lbs. He is going to want 3.5 - 4.5 mill a year. Does anyone have a opinion on his future and if the Oilers would be interested. It would require a trade out of NY for him to come to Etown.

He'll be a UFA after they pass on arb.

He's a (slighly) less talented Hemsky with 1/4 of the heart and a 1/10th of the guts.

Not really what we need.

Avatar
#44 Smokin' Ray
July 08 2009, 01:38PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Yes! Sign Kotalik. I can't believe they haven't already. He is one FA that has openly stated that he LIKES it in Edmonton. That should be a no brainer for Tambo. Sign this guy!

Believe it or not, but I was hoping the Oilers would have made an offer to Cole before he was signed. Gagner played his best hockey with Cole. It would have been nice to see that progress a little more.

Avatar
#45 Ccubed82
July 08 2009, 01:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Ogden Brother: Hey Ogden Brother, i have a couple more name to throw at you, and would like an opinion on. First off is Clarke Macarthur, LW/C 6' 195lbs, i have seen him many times, he played junior in my hometown. He has speed and grit and isn't afraid to go into the corners. I think he would be a 3/4 line player. The other is Daniel Winnik, he is bigger at 6'2 210. This would only be able to happen if the teams walk away from them.

Avatar
#46 Downright Fierce
July 08 2009, 01:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I'll always remember the out-of-breath interview he did after his first period as an Oiler. Gino asked him what he thought of the game so far and, between huge gulps of air, he replied "It's fast."

It was great to see a consummate professional such as AK be overwhelmed by so-called "Oiler Hockey", only to step up and contribute in the tail-end of the season. He won me over and I really hope he won over the brass because I would love to see him back in our silks.

We keep talking about Penner, Cogs, and Laddy being left to twist in the wind after the July 1 debacle, but I think AK belongs in that conversation too.

Avatar
#47 jeanshorts
July 08 2009, 01:53PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

All I know is that he can't score 40 goals, which seems to be the only thing important to anyone right now.

If my math is correct; 40 goals = Stanley Cup.

Avatar
#48 Archaeologuy
July 08 2009, 01:55PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

When Schremp and Eberle score 120 goals next year you guys are gonna feel real goofy about thinking the Oilers needed a goal scorer.

Avatar
#49 Andrew W
July 08 2009, 02:01PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

The Koivu signing has got me thinking about him as another possible comparable for Gagner. They're both listed at 5'10, and weigh in at 183 & 191 respectively. There won't be any equivalent statistics to look at for another year due to the fact that Koivu started in the NHL at the age of 20 and didn't play in the CHL, but here are the boxcars from their first two NHL seasons:

Koivu (95/96): GP: 82 G: 20 A: 25 Pts:45 (PPG: .54)

Gagner (07/08): GP: 79 G: 13 A: 36 Pts:49 (PPG: .62)

Koivu (96/97): GP: 50 G: 17 A: 39 Pts:56 (PPG: 1.12)

Gagner (08/09): GP: 76 G: 16 A: 25 Pts:41 (PPG: .53)

These numbers might not allow for a lot of insight, especially considering the fact that Koivu hasn't managed to duplicate the scoring rate of his second season again throughout his career. It is a bit disconcerting that Koivu has only managed to crack the 60 point plateau three times in thirteen seasons, and although this may be largely due to injuries, it caused me to consider how few small centres there are in the league. Furthermore, some of them are prone to getting hurt, like Briere, Steve Sullivan, and Tim Connoly (who is taller but relatively slight at 185 lbs).

With all due respect to Saku, I hope that Gagner's career follows more closely in the path of another comparable player: Doug Gilmour. I can't help but think that part of the reason he was relatively healthy was that he had better size and protection around him through most of his career. At present, there isn't anybody on the Oilers roster to provide the sort of toughness in the top six that Gilmour had with Mark Hunter, Gary Roberts, Jim Peplinski, or Wendel Clark. At least one player like this is sorely needed.

In a very roundabout way, I think this is a reason why the Oilers shouldn't make Kotalik a priority, and also why the on again off again rumour of Sourey for Dustin Brown makes sense for the current roster. It is also a good reason why a big third line centre like Betts would be very helpful, who's no Joel Otto but would fill this need.

Avatar
#50 Alon
July 08 2009, 02:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Smokin' Ray:

Gagner started palying his best hockey just before the trade deadline and continued to play well after the deadline. I was always of the opinion most of Kotalik's points came because he was lucky enough to get saddled with a now on fire Gagner.

Anyways, I

Comments are closed for this article.