What To Do With Ales Kotalik?


Jim Matheson’s excellent interview with Steve Tambellini ran a couple of days ago. Tambellini was extremely guarded about some issues (the hiring of a new coach) and open about others. One of the items he was relatively open about was how the brass viewed Ales Kotalik.

Q: What are you going to do with your unrestricted free agents, Kotalik and Dwayne Roloson?
A: They’re in the world championship and we all agreed we’d talk after that and they’d talk to their families and see what they want to do. We’ll have discussions with both guys.

Since we know the Oilers are interested in re-signing Kotalik, it’s probably good for us to take a look at him as a player again. I’ve done two previous pieces on Kotalik; one when he was acquired and another examining his ability to play left-wing on the first line. Tyler at mc79hockey also did a piece on Kotalik’s value as a shootout specialist. I’m largely referencing the work done in those three articles as I don’t especially want to redo the work done there. Based on those three articles and Kotalik’s career statistics, I’m going to make some statements about him:

Ales Kotalik…

  • is a very good/elite option as a powerplay point man
  • is an elite option in the shootout
  • does not kill penalties
  • does not provide anything more than average NHL offense at even-strength
  • does not get significantly outscored at even strength
  • adds size but not much more than average NHL grit/physical presence

Is that a fair evaluation? I think it is, but if there are any concerns please chime in below.

Based on that evaluation, Kotalik’s useful but unspectacular at even strength, and contributes nothing of significance to the penalty kill. In other words, if the Oilers are re-signing him, they’re doing it primarily for his contributions on the powerplay and in the shootout. Since the shootout is a bit of a fringe item, I think it’s fair to say that for Kotalik to provide fair value to the Oilers he should be a point-man on the power-play. Let’s look at who the Oilers have that can fill that role right now:

  • Sheldon Souray
  • Lubomir Visnovsky
  • Tom Gilbert
  • Denis Grebeshkov

If I were running the team, I’d view Kotalik as a support player at even-strength and a dynamic power-play option, so the only way I re-sign him is if I’m planning to move one of the four offensive defensemen currently on the Oilers. That frees up a powerplay spot for Kotalik (where he’s probably in the same range as any of the other four options) and allows the Oilers to address another area while trading from a position of strength. In other word, my decision would go like this:

  • If I’m trading a top-four defenseman, I re-sign Kotalik
  • If I’m making no changes to my defense, I’m letting Kotalik go

At this point, I think I would move a defenseman.

  • Hippy

    Kotalik is worth re-signing for his work in the shootout alone. He's simply a guy who can get the job done and almost guarantees you a few extra wins per season. He's good for 40-50 points a year with 20-30 points on the PP. As long as he wants to come back and isn't demanding too much, I'd love to see him back next year.

  • Hippy

    The shootout percentages are here:http://www.vote.nhl.com/ice/shootoutstats.htm?fetchKey=20092EDMAAZAll&sort=shootingPctg&viewName=shootoutsSkaters

    Kotalik is way ahead of everyone last year.

    Career wise:
    Horc 55.6 %
    Kotalik 52.6
    Nilsson 50
    Pisani 46.2
    O'Sullivan 44.4
    Gagner 32

    Why MacT didn't use Horc more on the shootout last year, I don't know.

    So if you want someone to sit on the bench all game and shoot in a shootout 13 times a year, Kotalik is the man.
    I think given the fact that he doesn't bring much else, and the Oilers lack of toughness, grit, and forechecking, he is not a good fit for this team.

  • Hippy

    Ducey wrote:

    Why MacT didn’t use Horc more on the shootout last year, I don’t know.

    Optics huh… I think that may have been one of the decisions MacT made this year that I endorse.

  • Hippy

    Sean wrote:

    JW, what do you think the trade value of Nilsson is? Comparing his numbers last year to this year is quite the difference.

    I think Nilsson's trade value is pretty minimal.

  • Hippy

    I'm not exactly sure that Tamby's comments regarding the Oilers "have too many contracts" actually applies to AK21 in the 1st place.,?

    I just don't see him including a player on that list who is a UFA on July 1st & who is/won't not counted on that 50 player list.

    (Yes, I understand that may be just semantics, but it's still fact.)

    From all his comments after arriving from Buffalo regarding his last few season there, I just don't see him coming back next season if he is told he will be a 3rd line player.
    But, from a Oiler standpoint, if he was to come in for the same amount of $$$ & no longer than 2yrs of term, I think they have to take a very hard look at bringing him back. He does have some intangibles that the Oilers could/would covet.

    The extra contract just to keep Ales #1 all warm & fuzzy just might be worth it over the short term.


  • Hippy

    So, with Pisani, Moreau & a 3rd line center, and Kotalik not good enough to fit in the top 6, where does Kotalik fir in? And how much $$ are you willing to give this man? If they re-sign him, they will be duped.

  • Hippy

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    Further on Ducey’s comment, you’ll never believe which Oiler has the best career mark in the shootout… (hint: it isn’t a forward)

    Yes, he'd have been about my last choice to be the Oilers' shootout king!

  • Hippy

    Ducey wrote:

    His skills on the powerplay are duplicated by a number of players. His shootout skills are also duplicated by others.

    I totally disagree, other that Souray and Hemsky, he would be our best power play guy. approx 50% of his points are on the PP. Our PP was terrible so that is an area we need to fix. If you can do that at minimal cost by utilizing a 3rd liner or part time 2nd liner that is fantastic. If we score 15 more goals on the PP with him, and he keeps up his shot out %, I can see that giving us 8-10 more points a year.

    My issue with him on the 3rd line is he doesn't kill penalties. I think your 3rd liners all need to be able to kill penalties.

  • Hippy

    Let the Jammi Jagr rumors heat up once again. According to Sportsnet, Jagr has stated that IF he is to return to the NHL next season, the Edmonton Oilers are his 1st choice.

  • Hippy

    TV wrote:

    I think they have to take a very hard look at bringing him back. He does have some intangibles that the Oilers could/would covet.

    And just ask Shawn Horcoff what intangibles qualify you to make here in Edmonton…

  • Hippy

    Guys, what GM in their right mind would give us a top 6 forward for Gilbert, Pouliot, and prospect. If I was a GM that watched any of those two play last season I would laugh at that trade!

  • Hippy

    @ Oilersordeath:
    Yeah, I totally agree. Young Defensemen who put up 45 points a season are totally a dime a dozen. Dont you hear that all the time? "Offensive Defensmen are not coveted in the NHL." People are going to look at his +/- and say "what? he could only be plus 6 on a bad team?"
    No one in their right mind would take that guy.

    Pouliot's a throw in, most of the prospects are too.

  • Hippy

    Another important factor here IMO, even if Kotalik displays an interest in returning is… how much commitment can/will Tambellini be able to give Kotalik prior to July 1st and teh handful of days following?

    I think this decision really hinges on whether or not the Oilers go after a "big name" player. Meanwhile I think Kotalik ends up in the same position as Glencross…. "Yes, we're interested in you… but please hold off right now until we see if we can lure a bigger fish… then we will now if we still want/can afford you"

  • Hippy

    I gotta say, I'm of the same mind as JW here. If we can't use him on the point ont he powerplay (a role I think he'd do well in), there's really no point in giving him the money he's sure to sign for. Right now, I don't think he replaces Souray or Visnovsky there, and while he's bigger, I don't think he'll be an upgrade on any of the forwards we already have in the top 6* at ES.

    *Assuming that top 6 is made up of Horcoff, Hemsky, O'Sullivan, Gagner, Cogliano and one of Nilsson/Penner.