I'm ready for the punishment. I can take it. What I'm going to do here is maybe point out why Kotalik should be on the starting roster come October. I know the prevailing thoughts are that he's going to the KHL or maybe being demoted but I will play devil's advocate here and maybe shed some light on why he was traded for in the first place. To be clear I'm not a fan but someone has to stick up for the guy...right?
When the trade was made to bring in Kotalik and Higgins the mind set of the team was that they were going to make the playoffs after these moves. You need two things from a forward in the playoffs, grit and scoring. One could reason Sutter looked at Kotalik as a bit of a reclamation project with upside. The downside to Kotalik was that he was defensively not reliable and not the fleetest of foot and could be liability and flop. Tortarella will tell you what he though of Kotalik's effort in New York, Kotalik was scratched a lot and used as tort's whipping boy often.
When Sutter was pitched Kotalik by Sather I'm assuming he pointed out some of these things.
In terms of scoring Kotalik's upside was pretty good, he has proven he can score averaging 21 goals and 25 points over the four seasons prior to last. Last season was Kotalik's worst season since he broke into the league with 11 goals and 16 assists for 27 points and staggering minus 17 on the year. It should be noted that Kotalik was minus 18 in New York and Plus 1 in Calgary so despite being horrible in New York he was not as much of a defensive liability as much in Calgary. Kotalik's prime weapon is a thundering slap shot, there was some speculation he would semi replace Dion's shot on the power play but that never really happened.
In terms of grit Kotalik was credited with 117 hits last year. 117 hits is the same as Nystrom, whom we mainly liked here, and tied with Nystrom for first on the team for forwards.
Outside of Kotalik, David Moss is the best right winger in line to get that 2nd line spot behind Jarome Iginla. David Moss got 17 points last year and was a .26 points per game and minus 9, Kotalik in an off year for him was .38 points per game and a plus 1 for Calgary. Kotalik did that and only got a little more average ice time than Moss, about a minute more. So if you were the G.M. and were asked if you'd like the guy who usually scored 45 points and hits everything on the ice or an unproven young guy who had one good year that did next to nothing last year you might think about it.
The cap hit between Moss and Kotalik are where things go strange for Kotalik, he is 1.7 million more of a cap hit than Moss, in other words that difference pays for Tanguay. Moss has top end potential of also being a 45 point guy if all things go right for him, he just hasn't proven he can do it consistently. Currently the Flames have minimal cap space to afford keeping Kotalik, but it is there at around $650,000.00 left counting him in the roster, of course the White arbitration hearing has yet to be decided and we do not know what is going on out of camp by any means. Who stays and who goes, what young guys make the team and what Veterans get sent to the AHL will greatly affect what happens to everyone. For instance if Staios gets sent to the AHL because Pelech is that good then there is the difference, cap wise, they need to keep Kotalik and then some.
Kotalik has denied the KHL thing and has stated he wants to play in the NHL next season, if he does the case for him isn't as out to lunch as you may think based on what you've just read.
One thought is that Bourque/Hagman could go to the right wing which would allow for two pretty good scoring lines, a third with potential and a great checking line. If this was the case getting rid of Kotalik just makes sense. It still leaves an extra center without a chair at the end of the music but we can assume, at least to start the season, Langkow will not be playing.
Hagman/ Stajan / Bourque
Glencross/ Backlund/ Moss
Stone/ Sutter/ Jackman/Ivanans
This would also allow Backlund to play with speedy somewhat offensive minded players, in addition it might be argued the 2nd line is actually the #1 line with all players being able to score 20-30 goals.
I think Kotalik will not play for the Flames next year but if he does I'm ready to give him another chance based on what I've stated above, admittedly it was horrible to watch last year but let's hope a couple months away and some mental rejuvenation will help him be better if for no other reason than to give him some trade value.