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.

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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.
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#51 Andrew W
July 08 2009, 02:09PM
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@ Ccubed82:

I used to think highly of Zherdev based on the highlight reels, and then I watched a couple of full games that he played for the Rangers. Ogden Brother was close when he wrote "He’s a (slighly) less talented Hemsky with 1/4 of the heart and a 1/10th of the guts." I'd modify that to read: he's less talented than Hemsky, 1/10th of the heart, 1/50th of the guts, and 1/100th of the backchecking. For anybody who's paid attention to Hemsky's occasional backchecking habits, this is really saying something. Zherdev is a terrible poacher, a lazy defensive player, and a sulker. My prediction: he'll either wake up or be in the KHL within a couple of years.

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#52 Alon
July 08 2009, 02:10PM
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@ Alon:

wow fat-fingered the enter button.

Anyways, I would be willing to be that the biggest reason Gagner played better at the end of the season would be due more to the fact he was finally getting over his injury (ankle I believe) and other adjustments made in his own compete level and game, rather than who he was playing with (although Cole's and Kotalik's size undoubtedly help him out)

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#53 Ogden Brother
July 08 2009, 02:10PM
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Ccubed82 wrote:

@ 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.

Don't know a whole lot about either. Though I'm sure if Moreau/Pisani were moved out or JFJ was deemed a bust they would probably fit.

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#54 Ogden Brother
July 08 2009, 02:14PM
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Andrew W wrote:

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.

Some other scary comparables:

Gilbert/Grebs to Corvo

Bernier to Cogs/O'sully/Gagner

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#55 Archaeologuy
July 08 2009, 02:24PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Some other scary comparables: Gilbert/Grebs to Corvo Bernier to Cogs/O’sully/Gagner

You mean besides the fact that Bernier's best season is worse than the worst seasons of any of the 3 guys you mentioned?

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#56 ChiliChunk
July 08 2009, 02:26PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

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

Wow - you really think Eberle is good for 118? He might win the Calder!

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#57 Ccubed82
July 08 2009, 02:27PM
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@ ChiliChunk: lmao awesome

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#58 Ogden Brother
July 08 2009, 02:30PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Some other scary comparables: Gilbert/Grebs to Corvo Bernier to Cogs/O’sully/Gagner You mean besides the fact that Bernier’s best season is worse than the worst seasons of any of the 3 guys you mentioned?

Get a grip.

I mean a guy that put up decent numbers for a rookie sophmore and didn't progress.

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#59 Ogden Brother
July 08 2009, 02:31PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Archaeologuy wrote: Ogden Brother wrote: Some other scary comparables: Gilbert/Grebs to Corvo Bernier to Cogs/O’sully/Gagner You mean besides the fact that Bernier’s best season is worse than the worst seasons of any of the 3 guys you mentioned? Get a grip. I mean a guy that put up decent numbers for a rookie sophmore and didn’t progress.

"decent numbers for a rookie/sophmore but then didn't progress"

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#60 Archaeologuy
July 08 2009, 02:33PM
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@ Ogden Brother: How can you say Cogs or Gags havent progressed past their sophomore season if they havent even played their 3rd year yet? Your comparison makes no sense, or were you making a point about how Andrew's comparison didnt make sense. I'm lost.

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#61 Andrew W
July 08 2009, 02:40PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

I'm pretty sure that Ogden Brother was arguing that he doesn't want Cogs/Gags/O'Sully to follow Bernier's career path after their respective sophomore seasons.

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#62 Dominoiler
July 08 2009, 02:47PM
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well, he can 'doesnt want them to' all he wants...

with all due respect, poor digression imo...

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#63 thenosebleedsection
July 08 2009, 02:49PM
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So with Auld going to Dallas for a bag of pucks (6th rounder). Does this mean Heater isnt coming to Edmonton? if so im happy and sad. Im happy cuz I hate his attitude towards everything. But im sad because we could use a scorer like him on the top line.

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#64 Ogden Brother
July 08 2009, 02:50PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: How can you say Cogs or Gags havent progressed past their sophomore season if they havent even played their 3rd year yet? Your comparison makes no sense, or were you making a point about how Andrew’s comparison didnt make sense. I’m lost.

I'm saying we always assume these young guys are going to get better...and even thought they TYPICALLY do, Cogs could end up being a 15 - 20 goal guy his whole career, Gagner could be a 45 - 50 point guy his whole career, Gilbert could end up in the minors in 3/4 years. etc etc

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#65 Andrew W
July 08 2009, 02:51PM
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One significant advantage that Bernier has over these Oilers is size, though. Even if he doesn't regain his potential as a top six player, he has enough skill, skating ability, and size to be a strong third line player. I haven't watched him enough to know about his positioning or hockey IQ, but these can be developed if the other assets are there.

I'd be comfortable making this prediction: at least one of Cogs, Gagner, Nilsson, or O'Sullivan won't have a significant NHL career, simply because there aren't many roles for small, high-but-not-prodigiously-skilled players in the league. Right now it looks like Nilsson, but anyone with a functioning crystal ball would make a better armchair GM than I. (Or an actual GM, for that matter...)

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#66 Ogden Brother
July 08 2009, 02:57PM
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Andrew W wrote:

@ Archaeologuy: I’m pretty sure that Ogden Brother was arguing that he doesn’t want Cogs/Gags/O’Sully to follow Bernier’s career path after their respective sophomore seasons.

Yup

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#67 Alon
July 08 2009, 03:02PM
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@ thenosebleedsection:

Ottawa would have needed to dump salary anyways to pick up the Penner, Cogs, Smid package, especially after signing Kovalev. I don't think this means much.

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#68 Andrew W
July 08 2009, 03:15PM
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With some time to kill this afternoon, I've been looking through rosters for centres with winning faceoff percentages, decent size, youth, and low cap-hits. Not surprisingly, the list isn't long, but here are a few that I haven't heard much about:

Kamil Kreps, FLA 6'2", 192 lbs, 24 yrs, RH, 50.5 f/o%, $.68M cap hit

David Steckel, WAS 6'5", 222 lbs, 27 yrs, LH, 57.9 f/o%, $.73M cap hit

Maxim Lapierre, MTL 6'2", 207 lbs, 24 yrs, RH, 53.2 f/o%, $.69 cap hit

Indulging in my armchair GM duties for the day, I would make some calls and kick the tires about any of these players for Nilsson, O'Sullivan, or even Cogliano (if he isn't dealt away already).

Now, to continue in my GM duties, I'm off for a round of golf...

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#69 Alon
July 08 2009, 03:19PM
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Has anyone heard about San Jose and Heatley? According to a reporter in SJ the Sharks are showing some interest

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#70 heavyd
July 08 2009, 03:21PM
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I wouldn' mind signing Kotalik and kinda see what he could do here for a full year.

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#71 David S
July 08 2009, 03:27PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

I’m saying we always assume these young guys are going to get better…and even thought they TYPICALLY do, Cogs could end up being a 15 - 20 goal guy his whole career, Gagner could be a 45 - 50 point guy his whole career, Gilbert could end up in the minors in 3/4 years. etc etc

Cogliano, maybe you're right. But you'd be a borderline loon to believe a 19 year old kid with as much upside as Sam isn't going to improve - alot.

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#72 Jolene Fendelet
July 08 2009, 03:32PM
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please please keep kotalik i really like him hes a good match up with hemsky he wants to stay so please keep him and DO NOT GET RID OF SOURAY

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#73 EMAC
July 08 2009, 03:47PM
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ChiliChunk wrote:

Archaeologuy wrote: When Schremp and Eberle score 120 goals next year you guys are gonna feel real goofy about thinking the Oilers needed a goal scorer. Wow - you really think Eberle is good for 118? He might win the Calder!

I hope Schremp makes the team out of camp. I can see him having a Krecj type year if he can. Maybe a stretch, but who knows.

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#74 EMAC
July 08 2009, 03:48PM
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ahh...Krejci

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#75 patty
July 08 2009, 04:02PM
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@ EMAC: The only oiler that put up numbers like Krejci last year was Hemsky. The kid was +37! I'd be happy if more than 1 Oiler could have a Krejci type year for once.

I see Schremp doing nothing, just like every other year. He's been passed over on the depth chart so many times it's not even funny.

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#76 Wanye Gretz
July 08 2009, 04:14PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

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

This seems to work. I double checked the formula

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#77 ChiliChunk
July 08 2009, 04:15PM
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EMAC wrote:

I hope Schremp makes the team out of camp.

Actually I would be very happy if he made the team. Because that would me he showed up at camp in the best shape of his life (somebody get that kid a copy of P90X pronto!), played nuts out and earned a spot. But I'm not holding my breath...

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#78 Duke
July 08 2009, 04:20PM
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ChiliChunk wrote:

EMAC wrote: I hope Schremp makes the team out of camp. Actually I would be very happy if he made the team. Because that would me he showed up at camp in the best shape of his life (somebody get that kid a copy of P90X pronto!), played nuts out and earned a spot. But I’m not holding my breath…

It would also strongly hint at the possbility that apocalypse is upon us.

Also, Eckky has the Oil still in on Heatley, which means he's definetley not coming here.

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#79 GSC
July 08 2009, 04:27PM
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Are we really penciling in Nilsson over Kotalik on the 2nd line?

For shame...

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#80 Reagan
July 08 2009, 04:30PM
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I sure hope the Oilers sign this guy...

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#81 Chris
July 08 2009, 04:40PM
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Kotalik scored half his points during even strength play; so it's not like he generated ALL his offence from the point on the PP. He should be able to get around 45 points on the season and will certainly be more physical than Nilsson. It's hard to get too excited about a guy like Kotalik... but he's legit.

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#82 misfit
July 08 2009, 04:51PM
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As usual I'm late to the party.

Like JW, I have never been a huge supporter of Kotalik. But ever since he was traded to Edmonton, what I liked most about him is how he appears to be a real team-first guy. Whether he is or it just appears that way is not something I'll ever know.

He's got size, a great additude, can play both wings, and he's good in the shootout. As great as those things are, they were also true about Brad Isbister (minus the shootout). Ales Kotalik has been, and will likely always be, a player who should be better than he is.

Bringing back Kotalik only makes sense if the money is great. Paying him anywhere close to $3M isn't great, but it's probably what it'll take.

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#83 misfit
July 08 2009, 04:55PM
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GSC wrote:

Are we really penciling in Nilsson over Kotalik on the 2nd line? For shame…

Why not both?

Penner - Horcoff - Hemsky Nilsson - Gagner - Kotalik O'Sullivan - Cogliano - Pisani Moreau - Pouliot - Stortini

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#84 David S
July 08 2009, 04:56PM
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EMAC wrote:

I hope Schremp makes the team out of camp. I can see him having a Krecj type year if he can. Maybe a stretch, but who knows.

~Yeah. That Schremp is a helluva player.~

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#85 GSC
July 08 2009, 04:58PM
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misfit wrote:

GSC wrote: Are we really penciling in Nilsson over Kotalik on the 2nd line? For shame… Why not both? Penner - Horcoff - Hemsky Nilsson - Gagner - Kotalik O’Sullivan - Cogliano - Pisani Moreau - Pouliot - Stortini

Would rather see O'Sullivan-Gags-Leak on the 2nd line

Still convinced that Penner goes bye-bye (along w/Cogs) and Heater joins the 1st line

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#86 Chris
July 08 2009, 05:09PM
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misfit wrote:

Penner - Horcoff - Hemsky Nilsson - Gagner - Kotalik O’Sullivan - Cogliano - Pisani Moreau - Pouliot - Stortini

That lineup makes me cringe compared to:

Heatley-Horcoff-Hemsky O'Sullivan-Gagner-Kotalik Moreau-Malhotra-Pisani Jacques-Brule-Stortini

It's funny how big a difference Heatley makes...

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#87 Chris
July 08 2009, 05:12PM
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GSC wrote:

Would rather see O’Sullivan-Gags-Leak on the 2nd line Still convinced that Penner goes bye-bye (along w/Cogs) and Heater joins the 1st line

Exactly.

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#88 Hemmertime
July 08 2009, 05:17PM
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@ Chris: Yup, and RB's article the other day has me refreshing every 10 mins to see if he is here yet. lol

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#89 The Menace
July 08 2009, 05:22PM
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for very similar money, Kotalik brings a lot more to the party than Nillson. Even though he will cost a bit more, it's much better value IMO.

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#90 hatecrime
July 08 2009, 05:38PM
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please don't pencil penner in at all .it makes me cringe just thinking about it!!GO HEATLEY GO

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#91 dustin penner
July 08 2009, 06:27PM
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I'm gonna show up to camp in shape too I am down to 5 donairs a day

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#92 Oilerguyforlife
July 09 2009, 02:28AM
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@ Ogden Brother: No offence to koivu or gilmour both great players in there own right but Gagner is one of those great players of the ilk of Gretzky in the fact the puck follows the kid around not saying he will be gretzky but he will be a heck of a talented player in the 80-90 point range in his prime and you are on glue if you think we could get brown for souray bud

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#93 Does It Make Sense To Bring Back Ales Kotalik?
July 09 2009, 09:52PM
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[...] lower then he expected, but that they are still talking. He also got offers from few other teams.H click for more var _wh = ((document.location.protocol=='https:') ? "https://sec1.woopra.com" : [...]

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