New York Rangers Must Find a Way To Move Kotalik
Sure Michal Rozsival and Wade Redden have not lived up to expectations since signing their respective contracts two seasons ago, but the two of them can at least be effective in some way, even when they are not scoring. The same cannot be said for Ales Kotalik, whom the Rangers inked to a three year/$9 million deal this off-season. He was good early on, providing that punch from the point that this team had lacked for years, but now, more than halfway in, Kotalik is proving to be the biggest bust the Rangers have signed in recent years.
Let's look at it this way, Michal Rozsival has increasingly upped his play since earlier in the season. He has done so well of late that he has found himself on the top defensive pairing with Marc Staal, and is eating up important minutes, even late in games with the score being close. Rozsival, who scored 13 goals in the year prior to signing his contract, scored only 8 last season and is on pace for even less than that this season. But even so, he has been very effective and although I would not hesitate to move his contract, his defensive play is no longer proving to be detrimental to the team.
Wade Redden's tenure has been nothing short of a disaster. He signed a six year/$39 million contract when coming off a mediocre year in Ottawa. Last year, early on, he was horrible, but picked it up late in the season and into the playoffs. It seems he is doing the same this season. He still always remains relatively calm with the puck and has increased physical play, including getting into his second fight in as many seasons in the last game. If he can develop a mean streak that we saw against Montreal the other night, then he can be effective as well. Last season he dropped Chris Clark in a fight, and Sunday he held his own against Benoit Pouliot. Can the coaching staff convince him to do this more often?
Now to Ales Kotalik, the so-called "powerplay specialist". He was doing exactly that at the beginning of the season, quarterbacking the man advantage and scoring goals left and right. At the end of October, he had 5 goals and 7 assists. Two of those goals came while on the powerplay as well as all seven assists. In the three months since, he has only 3 goals and 7 assists. If one looks at his even strength numbers, they will find that in 44 games, he has only 4 goals and 2 assists. These is worse than Chris Higgins' numbers.
This could be ignored if he was producing on the powerplay, but he isn't. He has been utterly invisible there and has even found himself a healthy scratch five times this season, including his sixth tonight when the Rangers face Tampa Bay. His effectiveness is close to zero. He has lost his spot on the powerplay and when he gets time at even strength he has done nothing. He has only 2 goals in his last 27 games. On a team that needs secondary scoring to be successful, and as someone who is being relied upon to put the puck in the net, this is inexcusable.
Is it entirely his fault? No, absolutely not. He had career years in Buffalo playing alongside Chris Drury, and he only got two games on the same line with him this season. There was not a chance given to him for chemistry to develop. He has also found himself on the fourth line with Boyle and Brashear for the last month. He had his chance, failed, and now he isn't getting another one.
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