Flames Waive Kotalik. Should the Oil Claim?


Thanks to injuries to David Moss and Brendan Morrison – plus a total lack of capable forward prospects – the Flames recalled Ales Kotalik this morning from the Abbotsford Heat. The $3M boat anchor acquired for Olli Jokinen (subsequently re-signed!) has operated at a point-per-game pace in the AHL since his demotion with four goals and 19 points in 18 games, which at least suggests he hasn’t completely fallen off a cliff.

Given his history as a mediocre even strength player, Kotalik was always a bad bet at $3M per year. It was bad when Sather signed him to that contract and bad when the Flames acquired him. That said, a confluence of circumstances have conspired to paint him as worse than he actually is in the NHL, meaning he might actually be a worthwhile addition at half price.

Kotalik began the season in Calgary injured. When he returned, he struggled to fit into the line-up. In 20 games, he scored a lousy three goals. His corsi rate was mediocre (+0.56/60) despite relatively soft circumstances (middling competition and a zone start ratio of 54%). Of course, Kotalik has always been pretty bad at driving the play north at ES, so none of this is unique to his current struggles.

What really suppressed his output below career normal levels in Calgary was a mix of terrible bounces and a lack of PP time.

We’ll deal with the latter point first. Kotalik has long been known as a PP/shoot-out specialist in the NHL, owning in no small part to his cannon if a shot. During his 20-goal seasons in Buffalo, Kotalik routinely garnered nearly half of his goal totals from the man advantage, including 12 in 2007-08 and 10 in 2005-06. He averaged more than three minutes of PP time per game in each of those seasons and produced as a result.

In Calgary, Kotalik was down at 1:26 per night and often on the Flames "second unit". That’s simply not enough for a guy like Kotalik who is unlikely to hit the ball out of the park at 5-on-5.

As for the bounces, Kotalik was also terribly unlucky during his 20 game stretch for Calgary. His PDO (on-ice SV% + SH%) was a paltry 92.6, due mainly to his ridiculously low on-ice SH% of 3.67. With the league mean around 8% and the tendency for percentages to eventually regress towards the average, this suggests Kotalik is in for a big rebound at some point in the future – should he he ever play in the NHL again, that is. Add in a personal SH% of just 6% this year and you have an overpaid, mediocre player deployed in less-than-ideal circumstances getting kicked around by the hockey gods.

As mentioned, Ales is a bad bet at $3M, even if we grant a bounce back up to career normal levels. However, at $1.5M and considering the Oilers need for established NHL veterans going forward, Kotalik might represent a worthwhile addition. Waiver rules preclude Edmonton from playing Kotalik this year should he be claimed, but with just one season left on his contract he could be a capable enough performer for Edmonton in 2011-12, even if it’s mostly as a PP guy.

Of course, the best part about claiming Kotalik would be sticking the Flames with $1.5M in dead space next season, particularly since they’ll be battling some significant cap issues as it is. While the Oilers aren’t likely to contend with Calgary in the short-term (think: next season) that is no reason not to make Calgary’s life a bit more difficult if possible.

  • Dan the Man

    Per Barnes, Jones, Principe, etc… via Twitter, Hemsky requires should surgery to repair torn labrum (same issue as last year but on opposite shoulder). 4-6 months to recover.

  • I say sign him because it wont have no barring on whether we sign Jones. This team needs to use some of its caps space for real NHLers. Kotalik fills a void which is ability to play on PP and contribute in a shootout. We suck at both and it cost us. He can be an effective depth guy at 1.5m, who can fill in on one of your top 3 lines if needed. Hes got size albeit hes not banger, he not small either.

    I like the fact hes a fellow countryman of Hemsky`s and that can`t be overlooked.

    I think it allows us to leave kids on the farm right now, and helps that team go for the playoff rather then filling holes on the big club where they are not ready to contribute.

    Plus it screws with Calgary`s cap space, woohoo.

  • Dan the Man

    Aside from a few offside comments, I don’t think there was anything particularly vitriolic about the response. Kent’s response comments suggesting the typical Oiler fan is “dum” is at least as rude.

    Anyways, on to A.K: pass. That’s it, unless Tambellini is related to the Sutters, in which case we would pick him up, buy him out, and then re-sign him down the road again. Zing!

  • This organization will only stop being losers if and when it stops considering loser moves like signing washed up players (Kotalik and the likes of Fraser, Foster, Vandermeer, JFJ, Strudwick next year). Even at league minimum he’s of less value than Steve Mac (and for me, that’s saying alot). At least Mac has a defined role he executes very well (when he can find a sucker that will go with him that is).

    There’s a reason Kotalik is on waivers. He’s done. He’s not “in transition” or “on a bad roll” or “doesn’t fit”. He’s just done. Happens to every athlete eventually.

    Enough with the loser talk. Please.

  • Clyde Frog

    I love how everyone is so blinded by their flames hate they can’t see the point of the article. Kotalik is still a 20 goal scorer on a run of bad luck with the Flames, look at his career sh% that is 9.92% * his 50 shots in 20 games * 82/20 = 20 goals. How is he a cast off from the Oilers? He chose to sign elsewhere after scoring 7 goals in 19 games with the Oil. Yeah he may be a PP specialist but how is that a bad thing for the worst PP in the league? pretty much what you have here is a low risk bargain with large potential return. it would be a sign of an astute gm to pluck him at half cost while stiffing a rival. And for all you Jones lovers he isn’t exactly driving the play in the right direction either and is on pace for a career best less than 20 goals and 23 points. Kotalik meanwhile has put up a career best 25 goals and 62 points.


    p.s. not that I hate Jones just realize what he is and is not.

  • Also here is a list of players who got icetime with the Oilers this season overwhom, I would prefer Kotalik (*or call at least a draw) on the roster:


    Rather a PP specialist than a liability, at least he brings something to the table.

  • Mantastic

    The Oiler are shopping for transition players not players who are in transition in thier careers. Stupid idea. There are atleast 6 guys on our roster who are not here next season. Foster, Strudwick, JF, Reddox, Brule, and Vandermeer. If the Oil draft Larrson its a lock that he’ll play with whitney in the first pairing. Gilbert would see either Petry or Chorney and Peckham would play with Plante or Tuebert. The list of RFA’s that the Oilers need to sign is short this year. Jones and Peckham. The rest are not worthy of consideration. Guys like JF have been given a shot and proven nada. Stortini proved that he could not take the next step in his development and Reddox has NHL speed but lacks the size and skill set to be anything more than a 4th liner and press box warmer. Kotalik had his chance here. Thats why he isn’t here anymore. He is done. Tell him to go to the KHL and play with all the other washed up has beens.

  • fuck off

    Is not the battle of Alberta supposed to be the greatest rivalry in all of sports? I don’t think anyone is taking the “hate” the way it’s meant. Are we not supposed to slander each other and the others respective team with as much vehemence as we can fathom? Just the same way heavy weights like MacIntyre and Ivanis tilt with their full will during a match; only to shake hands after the game is done.

    I only find it fitting that we aught to slam any flamer that would dare tempt our ~beloved~ ST into picking up the cow patties that Feaster is starting to fling across the waiver wires in a desperate attempt to salvage a season gone wrong.

    Which is why I only tell Kent to Kotalik my balls with the greatest respect; as one fan to another. One who also knows the pride of staggering out of the arena with puke on your shoes and fists raised high after a home team victory.

  • fuck off

    I say do it, but only because we need to restock the OKC roster for their playoff drive. It would be a blown opportunity if the Barons miss the playoffs and the young men don’t learn a thing or two about playoff hockey.

  • Maybe this has been covered already, but wouldn’t it screw over the Flames more if no one claimed Kotalik?

    That way, they are forced to deal with the full load on his contract for another year (or buyout and spread a portion over 2 years).

    If you asked them, I bet they would say “I would rather not handle the full-load.”*


    • Except they can hide the cap hit in the minors if he is on their squad. If someone picks him up then the 1.5M cap hit stays and can’t be buried in the minors. For a team with the cap issues that Flames have this would be a huge problem.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Welcome to ON Kent, wouldn’t mind seeing more articles from you here eh.

    Also I find it oddly curious that you’ve had more comments in your blog here then you normally get at that other site (that shall remain unmentioned) 😛


  • Clyde Frog

    Dear man named Kent from a city known as Calgary, (If that even is a real city… I have my suspicions!)

    I will accept your trade proposal if you take Steve Staios at 2 years!

    Oh wait that already happened.

    Sorry to bother you,


    Most of Edmonton

  • Steve Smith

    You’re all ignoring the cap hit point: on the Flames’ AHL team, Kotalik uses $0 in Flames cap space. On the Oilers, he uses $1.5M in Flames cap space.

    If we’re going to be terrible next year anyway, which we are, why not screw the Flames while we’re at it? Kotalik can be the 14th forward when the whole roster’s healthy, then as soon Brule gets scurvy and Hemsky’s shoulder bursts and Jacques has both feet amputated and Hall goes down fighting Derek Boogard, he can draw into the lineup, making us suck slightly less than we would if, say, Alex Giroux was occupying that spot.

    This, of course, presumes that there are no plans to acquire Actual NHL Players during the off-season, which, given the Penner trade, seems nearly certain.

    Also, I’d rather see Kent Wilson writing about the Oilers than see at least half the writers here writing about the Oilers, so as far as I’m concerned this post is welcome.