Monday, March 9, 2009

In Memory of Kotalik

Buffalo Sabres
Now a few days after a trade sent him to Edmonton, the Sabres are doing pretty well without Ales Kotalik, but he had been a huge part of Buffalo's franchise for a long while.

Ales Kotalik has often been criticized for not being physical enough, but just because he is a big guy, doesn't automatically imply that being physical has to be part of his game. His real problem was a lack of consistency, and the fact that his defense wasn't always there.

That said he wasn't bad. This was his sixth full season for Buffalo, which has been the only NHL team he has every played for. Recently he had been averaging around 20 goals a season, which is decent if not anything special.

Still the interest that Kotalik was likely to get in this coming summer is more than the Sabres would have been willing to spend, so giving him up is not too much of a loss. Kotalik was however, surprised to be traded, but was almost a casualty of Buffalo committing its future cap dollars towards Connolly instead. From the start of the season it appeared as if only one of Connolly, Kotalik, and Afinogenov would be resigned, and the team chose to go with Tim instead.

The thing that will be most remembered about Kotalik of course is his role in the shootout. He always went first for Buffalo and almost always scored when he went to the backhand, and only really ever went to a different move for the sake of mixing it up. He is still one of the top shootout players in the league, and those few extra points that he picked up for Buffalo really are important. Stafford has adopted Kotalik's backhander as his own for the shootout sometimes, but still doesn't do it quite as well.

Kotalik was never a critical part of the team in Buffalo, but still he will be missed.

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