Can the Shootout Revive Kotalik’s Career With the Sabres?

For Ales Kotalik, making the 2011-12 Sabres squad looks like a long shot, but he has at least one gimmick up his sleeve.

Ales Kotalik’s $3 million cap hit doesn’t bode well for a guy determined to make the Buffalo’s opening night roster. His plummet in production over the last few seasons with Edmonton, New York (Rangers), and Calgary (so much for a no-trade clause) is downright foreboding. What’s more, Ales skates on the right side, and will be competing with a group of already entrenched right wingers in Pominville, Stafford, Boyes, and Kaleta.

Still, if there is one thing that the Pegula Era has taught us, it is that the salary of a player doesn’t matter. If he can be effective, and if he can fit under the salary cap, he’ll stick. And AlKo’s stick schtick might help him do just that.

Fans may recall his propensity for scoring pretty dang consistently in the shootout. In the 2008-09 season, his last with the Blue and Gold, he was tied for 2nd in the NHL in goals scored during the shootout, with 6. He placed 1st overall in game determining goals, with 4.

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The Move: giving the 'Nucks the ol' "backhand switcheroo."

Anyone remember when Ales opened the shootout during the Winter Classic with a goal? It was a beautiful moment, and had many of us convinced, at least for a little while, that the Sabres were going to win that historic game (until Sidney Crosby soon thereafter finished off the shootout for the 2-1 SO victory).

Well, that’s all in the past – and since his departure, the Sabres have seen the emergence of some new shootout studs. To add to the ever-reliable Drew Stafford, Thomas Vanek and Tyler Ennis placed in the top 25 in shooutout goals last season (5th and T-22nd, respectively).

Having a shootout crew featuring Vanek, Ennis, Stafford, and Kotalik could really score some extra-time points for the Blue and Gold, but do we really need four gimmicky specialists? The answer to that is no – especially considering the fact that there is no shootout in the playoffs.

Ales enjoyed his moment in the sun sno-globe, but his time for being showcased for that speciality alone is gone. The challenge for Ales for the 2011-12 season, to break into the deep RW corps and justify that $3 mil hit, won’t be about gimmicks. And it’s not going to be easy. If he is going to revive his career with the Sabres, he’s going to do it in one way only:

He’s going to have to work his Ales off.

Schtick intended.

Go Sabres.

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