This morning I rolled out of bed to news that the much maligned Ales Kotalik had been placed on waivers by the Flames and could possibly be bought out if he clears; the deadline to buy out players is Wednesday, June 30th. After weighing reaction from around the blogosphere and the MSM, I'm of the opinion that this is probably the right move. In a modest defence of Sutter, GMs screw up on occasion, although some more than others. Darryl acquired Kotalik in a desperation trade to appease the fan base and in hopes that he might contribute some offence to the team even though he'd underachieved and been a healthy scratch on multiple occasions with the Rangers, and a buyout is his chance to partially rectify said screw-up by sending it on its way and reducing its cap hit, despite the longer term of a potential buyout.
The whole Jokinen saga can reasonably be described as a disaster for Sutter and the Flames, and if buying out Ales Kotalik and saving two million dollars in cap space (his buyout would cost $4M over four years, as per CapGeek), possibly enough to re-sign Chris Higgins or lock up another forward to fill Kotalik's roster spot, is the final chapter, than so be it. Of course buying Kotalik a plane ticket and sending him off on the next flight to Siberia or burying him and his cap hit in the minors would be more ideal solutions to the problem, taking him off the books altogether, but buying him out at a cost of $4M makes more sense than keeping an underachieving forward who is due to make six million dollars over the course of the next two seasons on your roster, counting against the cap, at least to me. Of course there is still the (remote) possibility that Kotalik gets claimed by another NHL team or gets loaned to a European squad a-la Marcus Nilson, as Sutter has never actually bought out a player during his tenure with the Flames, but we have until Wednesday to find out whether or not that trend will reverse itself.
Now, onto what is perhaps more important news; today is the deadline to extend qualifying offers to restricted free agents, and the Flames have done just that for eight of their RFAs. Ian White received a QO of $997,500 and still has the option of salary arbitration, while G Matt Keetley, G Henrik Karlsson, D Gord Baldwin, F Kris Chucko, D Matt Pelech, F Brett Sutter, and F J.D. Watt also received qualifying offers from the Flames, which leaves D Brad Cole and D Brett Palin seemingly destined for unrestricted free agency. I can't say I'm surprised that Cole and Palin weren't tendered QOs with an incoming crop of prospects including defencemen T.J. Brodie and Chris Breen likely headed to Abbotsford next season, but I don't understand Sutter's insistence on keeping the likes of Kris Chucko, drafted in the first round six years ago, and knuckle-chucker J.D. Watt around. What do you think?
Now that I've said my (lengthy) piece, links after the jump!
Scouting Henrik Karlsson: Everything you need to know about the Flames' most recent addition in goal [The Goalie Guild]
As the list of available UFAs continues to dwindle now that names like Plekanec, Marleau, and Pavelski are off the market, From the Rink continues their look at the free agent needs of various NHL teams, with an eye towards the Western Conference.
Is Marc Savard Toronto-bound? The pros and cons of acquiring the shifty former Flame [PPP]
Evgeni Nabokov could be looking for a $6M/year contract this off-season [Puck Daddy], and the decision not to re-sign him by Sharks GM Doug Wilson looks smarter every day, especially since they've resigned both Pavelski and Marleau, amongst others, and are reportedly working on a new deal for Manny Malhotra.
How good is Ilya Kovaluchuk, and how much is he worth? [Behind the Net]
Tyler Dellow breaks down the Oilers' qualifying offers [Mc79hockey]
Negotiations between Rangers GM and Marc Staal's agent, none other than former NHL great Bobby Orr, have reportedly reached "chasm" status [Puck Daddy], as well as the winners and losers of the 2010 NHL Draft (spoiler alert: the Flames are losers]
Have a good week everyone and happy holiday long weekend in advance!