As of now this is nothing but a rumor, but it certainly makes sense for the Rangers and for Kotalik. As a result of the contract that he signed this summer, he's making $3M/yr for the next three years. When he signed this summer, many Rangers fans (myself included), hoped that Kotalik would be a good signing for the Rangers as he has a wicked slapshot and could man the point on the power play. Unfortunately, more often than not, that slapshot misses the net, or gets blocked and leads to shorthanded odd man rushes the opposite way.
Tonight will be the fourth straight game that Kotalik has been a healthy scratch and the reports in the New York papers are that Kotalik isn't happy and doesn't understand why he's being singled out. He's clearly not happy and the rumors are that if he's not traded, that he would leave to play in Europe. If this were to happen, the Rangers would be off the hook for the $3M cap hit per season (similar to Radim Vrbata leaving Tampa last season).
Strangely, Vrbata and Kotalik have the exact same contracts and this analysis from TSN when Vrbata left to play in Europe last season would also apply to Kotalik:
The free-agent winger, who was signed to a three-year, $9 million free-agent contract in the off-season is apparently heading home to the Czech Republic to finish the season there. The Lightning will apparently not be responsible for paying him for the balance of this season but the contract will remain in force for the second and third years should he choose to return to the NHL.Basically, if Kotalik decided to leave the NHL to play in Europe, the Rangers would not be responsible for paying him or for his cap hit as long as he remains in Europe.
Who are the likely trade partners? With two seasons left on his contract after this season at $3M per season, moving Kotalik may be easier said than done. However, a team like Atlanta, could be interested.
Sheldon Souray is another player who has been rumored for weeks now to be on his way out of Edmonton. But, would Edmonton want Kotalik back (he finished last season there)? Souray is under contract until after the 2012 season and has a cap hit of $5.4M. If the Oilers were willing to trade Souray to New York then Souray would have to waive his no trade clause. The Rangers would also have to include other players in the deal or make another move because of salary cap issues.
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