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Oceanside, CA • United States • 33 Years Old • Male

Too Good to Be True

Posted 3:10 PM ET | Comments 9
I will not talk about last night. For me, that “game” didn’t ever happen. I have completely wiped that garbage from my mind. Instead I’m going to talk about some of the rumors that have been reported or repeated on this site.

The first is the alleged request by the Ales Kotalik camp that he be traded or allowed to go to Europe. Beautiful!! Since he has a NMC generously handed to him by Sather, we would need his permission before trading him. Now we have it and can deal him to a team looking for some offense, right?

There’s just one problem with that; he doesn’t provide much offense. Nobody wants a guy that is a minus 16 so far this season, has 2 years left on his deal that pays him $3 million and who doesn’t produce offensively.

Edmonton apparently felt Kotalik was worth a 2nd round draft choice at last year’s deadline but I don’t think anyone will be so foolish this go around.

I’m not saying Kotalik is a bad guy or that he is even the most overpaid player on this roster (that distinction probably goes to Wade Redden or Chris Drury). What I am saying is his production, or lack thereof, is not worthy of the money he is being paid and therefore no other team will be calling Sather offering anything for his services. He is dead weight by any definition of the term.

The real problem that I had/have with signing Kotalik in the first place was his past production didn’t indicate that he was worth $3 million then or that he would be worth $3 million at any point during his deal. It’s really not Kotalik’s fault either. Kotalik is playing as well, or as poorly, as he has in just about every other season of his career.

This isn’t a young guy we’re talking about here either. Kotalik turned 31 this past December and had completed his 6th full NHL campaign. It’s fair to say that he had already reached his career peak in terms of production. It would make sense that Kotalik was going to be the same player, or worse, as the player who has finished with a negative +/- rating in every season of his career.

So if the best we could hope for is that Kotalik was going to be the same player as he had been for the last several seasons then what exactly were we getting? As I said, Kotalik has never finished a season with a +/- rating of even or better. Well, we all know that +/- can be a deceptive number though, right?

Take this into account then: in 2006 – 2007, while still with the Sabres, Ales finished a -5. That was the lowest rating of anyone on the Sabres with a minimum of 20 GP. In fact, 14 Sabres (including noted defensive stalwarts Dmitri Kalinin and Maxim Afinogenov) finished the campaign a +10 or higher. Tomas Vanek led the way with a +47 while Center Derek Roy was a +37. The only other regular (60 GP or more with Buffalo) on that squad that finished with a minus rating was Adam Mair. He finished a -1.

Ok, so we weren’t signing him for his defense anyway. We wanted him for his ability to get a good, hard shot on net from the point. Considering our PP was the 2nd worse in the entire league last year Kotalik’s shot would be a welcome addition to the unit. Kotalik had scored 9 or more PP goals and 20 or more PP points in 3 of the previous 4 seasons.

The unit has improved, converting at a 19.1% clip; good for 5th in the Eastern Conference. Kotalik has contributed to that improved PP with 16 PP points, good for second on the team after Marian Gaborik. He is tied for the team lead (Michael Del Zotto) in PP assists with 12.

Another positive attribute that Kotalik brought to the Rangers was his shootout success rate. Prior to this season, Kotalik had cashed in on 20 of his 38 attempts (52.6%). I plan to do a study to see just how valuable a shootout goal is; exactly how many shootout goals equal a win. Without knowing that, it is difficult to attach a value to Kotalik’s particular skill.

Nevertheless, Kotalik hasn’t performed up to his usual standard in the shootout. This year, he has only converted one of his four attempts. Conversions and attempts are both down for Ales this year.

The biggest issue with the term and the money in Kotalik’s deal is I can’t imagine there was a whole heck of a lot of other suitors for Ales. He didn’t sign until later in the summer; after the big UFA rush had receded. Could the Rangers have gotten Ales on a shorter term and or a lower annual salary? Were they in fact competing against themselves? I guess we’ll never know.

Well, all of this is really for naught anyway because Kotalik has come out and denied that anyone representing his interests asked the Rangers for a trade. In fact, Steve Zipay quoted Kotalik’s response to the rumors in his blog. Here’s what Kotalik had to say about whether he requested a trade or his release: “No, are you serious? I wouldn’t hurt the team. I’m just trying to be a good teammate,” he said.

Interesting for sure but sorry Ales, I think you hurt the team more on the ice than you would if you had asked for a trade or release. Unfortunately, this rumor seems to have no legs to it.

There was also some speculation that a deal might be in the works with Calgary as a Flames contingent was seen recently scouting the tri-state teams. Naturally, as fans, we started thinking of which Flames player or players would look best in blue. Many would like to see Defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who is rumored to be a locker room problem, end up on Manhattan. Others speculated that Olli Jokinen could be on his way to Broadway.

While Phaneuf would add a much needed physical element to the Rangers blue line, it won’t be easy to make a trade for the gifted defender. First, Calgary is up against the cap. As is New York. The only way to make a deal is to make it as close to a dollar-for-dollar transaction as possible. That is unless of course the threat to demote Redden to the AHL is legit.

Calgary is thought to be looking for some scoring help. That means they would likely ask for a guy like Brandon Dubinsky or Ryan Callahan. We’ve had lots of arguments about Dubinsky and whether or not we think he will ever be a 1st line talent but regardless, the Rangers are already light at Center so they should not move a young Center without reservations.

Callahan is the type of player that New York fans can really get behind. He works hard, does all of the little things. Plus he produces 20+ goals a season. He is also an assistant captain so dealing him will not be an easy decision.

Unless the Rangers are serious about demoting Redden to Hartford, New York would have to include a high salary like Rozsival to make the finances work. That would actually force the Rangers to offer more in a package since the inclusion of a contract like Rozsival would probably be valued as a negative.

The bottom line is that unless the Rangers want to deal high draft picks and/or prospects in addition to a player like Callahan or Dubinsky. That would be a steep price to pay.
January 24, 2010 3:24 PM ET | Delete
I'd like to see how Avery would react to having the guy who took his sloppy seconds playing on the same team
January 24, 2010 3:31 PM ET | Delete
Avery is just odd enough that he might end up being best friends with Phaneuf. I'm not sure how Dion would feel about it but it would make for some interesting watching.
January 24, 2010 3:32 PM ET | Delete
I thin Dion is going to get a really high end forward and I like the two guys you are talking about but unless they came with a 1st rounder (or two based on the pronger deal) then I don't think there's a fit there really.
January 24, 2010 4:05 PM ET | Delete
Oh no doubt Calgary would want a top prospect and/or a 1st round pick in addition to either Callahan or Dubinsky.
January 24, 2010 8:55 PM ET | Delete
The only thing I see POSSIBLY for the NYR, is that of Ollie Jokinen coming this way as the #1 Center. Of course thats an oxymoron, because he hasnt quite fit the bill in Calgary as one. None the less, I dont think we have the fire power to land either of them.....
January 24, 2010 8:57 PM ET | Delete
If Calgary was desperate and was willing to take 1st Rd Pk this and next yr, plus some of our garbage ( ie: Rozsival, Redden, Kotalik ), then I would jump at this deal for the both of them! But, reality tells me it "Ain't gonna happen"....
January 24, 2010 9:19 PM ET | Delete
with regards to dion coming to new york and playing with avery....winning can turn the worst enemies into best friends.
January 25, 2010 4:43 PM ET | Delete
For the record Dion Phaneuf is not Chris Pronger, I keep seeing this comparison but Dion isn't even close to Pronger this season. Pronger is a leader who can drag a team to the finals...Phaneuf is a liability for the most part.
January 25, 2010 11:16 PM ET | Delete
Horseguts: I don't recall making any comparison of Phaneuf to anyone; much less Pronger. Phaneuf does have the talent to be one of the premeir defensemen in the league though.
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