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.
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.
It’s time for some post-trade-stress-disorder analysis.
With Robyn Regehr, the Buffalo Sabres picked up the rugged, dominant defensemen that they needed to push teams around in the playoffs (instead of the other way around, as we’ve seen in recent history). We’ve already touched on the promise of Regehr, Kotalik, and that 2nd round pick before, but what are the pundits and fans in Calgary saying about what they got in return?
Brian Costello (Senior Special Editions Editor of of The Hockey News) was quick to fire off a neutral-site column about this trade, a piece entitled “Robyn Regehr Trade Makes no Sense for Calgary Flames.” Not the most auspicious title for Flames fans. From the column:
Why did Feaster think he had to be the one throwing in the second round pick? Shouldn’t Buffalo have been the team sweetening the pot? Was it that important for Feaster to get rid of Kotalik’s deal? Why wouldn’t he farm the winger in Abbotsford next year (like he did part of this season) or make him go away to Europe, the way Chicago GM Stan Bowman made Cristobal Huet and his $5 million go away a year ago?
If the rationale for the Regehr trade was freeing up salary cap space, shouldn’t Feaster have been trying to trade disappointing Jay Bouwmeester and his $6.68 million, or unproductive Matt Stajan and his $3.5 million, or stone cold Niklas Hagman and his $3 million? Not someone useful like Regehr.
Chris Butler is a No. 5-6 defenseman now. The Flames have a plethora of those in Brett Carson, Adam Pardy, Brendan Mikkelson and T.J Brodie. Those types of players can typically be purchased every July 1 for about $1 million or so. Butler has upside as a No. 3-4 defenseman and that will be absolutely necessary for Feaster to save face here.
Paul Byron is an undersized 22-year-old minor-leaguer who wasn’t ranked among Buffalo’s top 10 prospects in Future Watch. He has terrific offensive skills, but that may or may not translate at the NHL level because of his 5-foot-9, 170-pound frame.
A lot of things have to align for Feaster to make this trade look good. And if they don’t, it’ll look even worse when the toughened-up Sabres have a successful playoff run, then pile on by boosting their prospect system with Calgary’s second pick next June.
The Flame’s blog “Matchsticks and Gasoline” noted that this trade was going to need some serious analysis. They sat down for an “M&G Roundtable,” wherein Arik James collected his team of writers for some perspective. (Note: surnames of writers were not noted.) From Arik:
There’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye. But I’ll address the whys and hows in a different post. I’d like to talk about what this means for the Flames and their defensive corps going forward. The first thing is obviously the acquisition of Chris Butler. Now while he hasn’t been “great” so far in his career, it’s important to remember the development curve for defensive defensemen is exceptionally late. If Butler can develop as even a 3/4, the Flames won’t have terrible defensive depth. Just pretty bad defensive depth.
I suppose you really have to wonder what other teams were offering if Feaster did indeed like the Buffalo deal best (or if it was just the chance to dump Kotalik that sweetened the pot), but then again he’s not exactly a candidate for GM of the year. Re-signing Tanguay at the cost of his annual cap hit ($3.4M) probably could have been done without moving Regehr and/or Kotalik considering that there will be a number of unrestricted free agents whose salaries come off the books next Friday, so it seems Feaster has something else up his sleeve, which is, understandably, terrifying.
Overall, it’s hard to feel the least bit positive about this deal. It’s simply a continuation of the awkward middle-ground the Flames find themselves in between being average/capable enough to get by and horribly awful, although now we’re probably leaning more towards the ‘horribly awful’ side after dealing our best defenceman, which I suppose could be a plus in the long-run.
I don’t know, I think I’ve gone delusional.
In the end, the Flames have $7.5m in cap space and the freedom to do some things in free agency, which is a win. However, we’re down a top-pairing d-man without an immediate replacement in the top 4 and didn’t get a blue chip prospect coming back the other way. That’s disappointing.
I don’t think many teams out there are seeing Regehr playing much past his current contract. He is a D man who has to play physically to contribute, if that dimension of his game begins to soften what else does he have to contribute? Is he that incredible first pass out of the zone, is he that bullet from the point and PP QB, is he that fast D man who can save a goal on a broken play with a diving poke check? I don’t want to slag Regehr, I love the guy as much as any Flames fan but how he was seen on the market may not have been as high as many think.
His body has taken a lot of abuse over the years and he is not going to play till 41 like Lidstrom, I don’t think anyone is going to dispute me on that.
Ultimately this trade is all about Cap space for the Flames and trying to clean up a Sutter mess. Nothing else, they have taken some very high risks on Butler and Byron which may or may not work out. So if you were expecting this trade to improve the team for the season you have to be disappointed.
Essentially, the Sabres seemed to have ripped Calgary off on paper, but it’s not like Regehr is a spring chicken anymore – and that is the best way to look at this trade. Sabres fans may not really be getting the wholly dominant shutdown defenseman that they were hoping for in the slightly aged Regehr (at least not for the long term), and at the same time, Flames fans are getting a bit more than they immediately thought.
Byron still has a lot to prove at the NHL level, but Chris Butler is still an up-and-coming defenseman who may be quite good. It’s easy for fans to forget that Chris virtually skipped all of his pro development. After spending just 27 games in the AHL, the bulk of his pro hockey training and experience came at the NHL level.
Butler’s quick success in the big league was overshadowed by each defensive zone mistake that he made in the faster, meaner, mentally tougher NHL. Having virtually gone straight from the NCAA to the NHL, it may have been a bit unfair to judge his entire future on his developmental mistakes. Frankly, he did quite well for a guy who had the pressure of honing his pro game in the NHL, up until the point where he found himself as Tyler Myers’ partner at the end of this season. Flames fans should take heart – Butler does have a lot of promise.
For now, of course, there is a lot of panicking going on in Calgary. For the more adventurous, here’s the link to the Flames’ fan chat on HF Boards analyzing the returns for Regehr and that 2nd round pick. Let’s just say the people in that discussion are pretty ticked off.
They really have a hard case of post-trade-stress-disorder.
While everyone was focused on the Ehrhoff and Leino sigings and the Regehr trade, the Sabres quietly added a very good netminder to the organization.
It went a bit under-reported, and most fans in Buffalo were left scratching their heads over not only over what MacIntyre brings to the crease, but why the organization brought him in. Some even jumped to the conclusion that it was a move that signaled an impending trade of Jhonas Enroth.
MacIntyre will be in Rochester for the 2011-12 season (barring any injuries at HSBC), but just how good is this guy? To get more info on him, we headed straight over to The “The Goalie Guild,” an information and scouting destination for all things netminder related. Justin Goldman, member of the Pro Hockey Writers Association and contributor to NHL.com, is one of the best minds to pick when it comes to what to expect from a anyone wearing a goaltender’s mask.
Goldman gave us a full profile on MacIntyre, and you’re going to like what he had to say. Take it away, Justin: (more…)
I hope your summer is going as jazzy as mine.
Now that the UFA frenzy is officially behind us, we have all the time in the world to propose Sabres line combinations (well, Lindy will change those up 18 times a game, so that’s pointless), head over to Capgeek.com’s Cap Calculator to see which players we would put to the axe (but that’s already getting out of hand), check out the Sabres section of HF Boards to see what the hottest topic is (to insult each other’s mothers over), discuss the Bills…
…OK, forget the Bills for now.
So what to do? The choice is clear! It’s time to celebrate a triumphant return to BSN’s “Summer Awards.”
I know you’re sweatin’, so let’s jump right in the fun pool. Today’s award is called “The BizNasty,” named for everyone’s favorite NHL Twitterer, Paul Bisonnette. If you like pictures of PT Cruisers, emphatic and random homeless person updates, and the occasional insight into “chicks,” then follow him at @BizNasty2point0. He’s quite the sensation, and so was the Twitter for Sabres fans last season.
Sabres Game Chat was a revelation for a lot of folks last season, and there were some Twit-related events that really took this fan base to a higher level. I am not sure exactly what that level is, but it is somewhere between “stronger union” and “angry mob” (depending on whether the Sabres win or lose, but more on that later).
The award goes to the Twitter event that entertained us the most. The winner receives a free Groupon for some hair salon or whatever, so please, take your vote seriously – we don’t give away free coupons for nothing.
Without further ado, here are our candidates:
1. Sabres’ “Fan Tunes” backfires, fans tortured via very non-elaborate Twitter hoax: we’ll tell the brunt of this story in pictures: (more…)
Well the NFL lockout is over and things will be taking off at a feverish pace. Trades, free agency, training camps – and that’s all scheduled to start this week. That’s all well and good you say, but where’s my hockey fix? (Ok, you didn’t say it, but you were thinking it. At least one of you was.)
Obviously there’s all the great content that graces the virtual pages here at BSN. Then there’s all the fine Sabres sites listed in our sidebar – check out the banners as well as the blogroll below them. Many of you are probably familiar with this, but I find that using an RSS reader lets me get at news more quickly plus I don’t have to navigate to a bunch of different sites just to see if there’s new stuff posted. Google Reader works great but you can also get apps specific to the OS you’re using (there are even apps for Droid and iOS). Just plug your favorite hockey sites in and scroll away.
If that’s not enough to whet your hockey whistle, check out this guide to a hockey-free summer over at Houses of the Hockey. Some items include:
- Spend the next two months playing NHL 11 for several hours a day. Watch your respect for the game’s advanced artificial intelligence grow as it rejects ridiculous trades like two early draft picks for Semyon Varlamov.
- Drink beer. A lot.
- Drive that one Flyers’ fan you know crazy by continuously asking who he’ll miss more, Jeff Carter or Mike Richards.
You could also think up a new plan for restructuring the NHL thanks to the Thrashers becoming the Winnipeg Jets. Next year they’ll be in the Western Conference of course, and that means more than a couple teams will get shuffled around. Will Columbus, Nashville and/or Detroit move to the Eastern Conference? Will there even be an Eastern Conference? For example, over at Undrafted, they propose a Hipster/Redneck/Elitist Snobs breakdown of 3 large divisions. Funny names aside, it really does make sense. And at Bleacher Report the possibility of an all-Canadian division is proposed . But you can pull an all-nighter consuming a pot of coffee and construct your own realignment in your hockey war room, complete with pushpins representing all the teams on a peg board connected with string. (What? Don’t tell me I’m the only one with such a war room.)
Or you can craft angry emails to the NHL about why we should go back to the old Adams/Norris/Patrick/Smythe divisions. Because it’s tradition, dammit.
I’m not going to to pretend that every Sabres fan reading this hasn’t updated their NHL ’11 rosters and taken the Sabres to a Cup win already, so after that you can start delving into what NHL 12 has to offer.