Many flames fans are already giving up on the season. Some are even hoping for the team to tank this season which would spell the demise of Darryl Sutter. Is this approach towards the 2010-11 season justified? Lets look at the various reasons as to why this season is considered to be over before opening night faceoff by the fans
Today I will look at the
1. Ales Kotalik trade
Many fans consider this to be a boneheaded move by Darryl Sutter. The fact that he had also just traded Phaneuf a few days earlier in what many view to be a lopsided trade, this trade was viewed with a lot more contempt by the flames fans and a lot of ridicule by those around the league, than it would have as a stand alone trade.
Jokinen was a player who was run out of town by the fans due to him underperforming for the 5 million he was paid. 35 points in 56 games didn't really cut it for the second highest paid forward on the team. If the team had been performing more favorably, then it wouldn't have been considered to be as major an issue as it was. A player, who according to some (including myself) was one who used to bring it all every night, Jokinen seemed to be bit by the post bug. The number of posts he hit last season was not a feat which helped the flames scoring wise.
This caused Sutter to make a deal to get in some scoring. The deal he made was Jokinen for Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins. Both are players who have hit 20-goal seasons. Sutter was hoping a change of scenery would spark some much-needed goal scoring for the flames. Many fans viewed Higgins to be the main part of the trade coming to the flames. Kotalik's peak was 62 points with Buffalo in 2005-06. Other than that season he was a player who used to be hitting a point total around 40 points. Even when he played for Rochester in the AHL before making the jump he didn't hit the 50 point plateau. Kotalik is basically a Hagman like player with regards to scoring, who had a sub-par season last year. Another assumption people tend to make is that Kotalik is a player who, being czech, will be a very non-physical player. 117 hits in 71 games for a "non-physical" player is a pretty good number.
Another plus point for Kotalik is his booming shot on the powerplay. Though, we were not lucky last season due to his low shot to goal conversion.
There are different views with regards to Kotalik next season. Some say send him to the minors and let the flames pay him to play in the AHL. Some say loan him to a European team, something of the sort of a Huet move. Where as some say give him a chance in training camp to prove himself and if he can earn himself a spot come opening night keep him on the roster. If Kotalik can return to his usual play of 20 goals and 20 assists, he would be a welcome addition to starved offense that was the flames, last season.
Maybe trade him to a team willing to give him another chance and also looking to hit the salary cap floor (a la NYI). To make this trade happen there might not even have to be a sweetner added. Depends on how the other team views him though. Due to the fact that the Islanders have invited free agents to the training camp, they might rather sign a FA than make a trade with something going back in return. A good approach might be give him a chance to prove himself during training camp and pre-season games to see if there would be any takers.
What ever is the move lets hope that it helps the flames make strides towards being a contender.