After being placed on waivers by the Flames yesterday, Ales Kotalik cleared without being claimed by another NHL team, and a decision on his future is expected by tomorrow--the NHL buyout deadline. According to several members of the hockey media, however, the Flames have no intentions of buying out the remainder of Kotalik's contract, and have yet to subject the Czech forward to unconditional waivers--an apparent pre-requisite for any potential buyout:
As per Sportsnet's John Shannon's Twitter:
To be clear, It is not the Flames intention to buy Ales Kotalik out. They just don't want his dollars on the Cap.
While TSN's Bob McKenzie had this to say:
I do not believe CGY intends to buy out Kotalik. More like "we can now bury you in the minors, maybe you want to play in Europe instead?"
CGY cant afford to use valuable cap space on buyout. Aim is to find spot for Kotalik where he doesnt count against cap and someone else pays
He also confirmed that a player put on waivers tomorrow could still be bought out if he clears on Thursday, and attested to the existence of a secondary buyout window following the conclusion of salary arbitration. CBC's Elliotte Friedman further complicated matters with these tweets earlier this afternoon:
One note about Kotalik: Flames did not put him on unconditional waivers, so he cannot be bought out. Maybe they will do it tomorrow...
So Kotalik has cleared waivers and likely will not be bought out, as it appears the Flames have other plans for him that would take his cap hit off the books for good (i.e. Convincing him to leave North America and go home to Europe one year earlier than he had planned). I can't help but wonder if the two sides already have a deal in place behind closed doors, much like Marcus Nilson and Darryl Sutter did two summers ago, especially considering that Kotalik was reluctant to come to Calgary in the first place.
Reports in the Calgary Herald claim that Darryl Sutter is still trying to come to terms on a new deal with Chris Higgins' agent Matt Keator before free agency begins on Thursday, and the dollars saved with Kotalik's departure would help sweeten the pot, no doubt, but could also be put towards acquiring offensive talent through a trade or free agency.
In other Flames news, the team has signed recently acquired goalie Henrik Karlsson to a one-year, one-way $500,000 contract according to CapGeek, guaranteeing him the role of Kiprusoff's little-used back-up for next season. While Karlsson is unproven at the NHL level, he's twenty-six years old and comes significantly cheaper than any of the other worthwhile free agent 'tenders that will be on the market come July 1st, and comes off as a steal when his new salary is compared to the $1.325M cap hit he incurred last season.
That's it for now, stay tuned for updates on Kotalik's contract status and your long-awaited free agency primer coming up tomorrow.