Ranger Analysis: Why so Hard on Ales Kotalik?

Where’s the beef? The old Wendy’s tag line is quite fitting for the newest Ranger acquisition, well with just one little change: why the beef? Every since it was announced on TSN that the Kotalik deal was for 3 million a year for three years and not 1 million a year Ranger fans have been buying pitchforks and torches like Frankenstein is in town. Why?

I fail to see why signing Kotalik—30 years old— to a 3 year 3 million dollar contract is another "immense failure" just in from Glen Sather. Kotalik fits Tortorella's system to a T. What, do you think Glen Sather just walks down to Tortorella's office and says "hey John I signed Kotalik today!"? No, they discuss players with each other and in the end Tortorella has the final say. Sources say that the Rangers had Kotalik targeted from the beginning anyway. Look, I understand Kotalik is not a 80-100 point guy, but he isn't he being paid like one; so what’s the problem? Why the beef?

Kotalik is a lock for at least 20 goals in a season. Is he an assist machine? No, but he holds his own. And last I checked 3 million for a 50 point scorer in the NHL is either under or right at market value. His presence will give the power play a much needed boost—21 goals and 23 assists on the power play in the last two years—and he can competently play the point. Also, Kotalik is one of the best shootout players in NHL history, going 20-38 (52%) in his career. And if all that is not enough he may help rejuvenate Drury—since both players had their career years playing on the same line as each other.

So why all of the complaints? A 3 year deal is too long for a 30 year old player; a player, may I add, with massive playoff experience? Let’s take a peek at what the (forward) lines look like now that Kotalik is a Ranger:

Higgins-Dubinsky-Gaborik
Callahan-Drury-Kotalik
Avery-Anisimov-Zherdev
Brashear-Boyle-???

(Note: These combinations are of course assuming Callahan and Dubinsky sign, and Zherdev is offered 3.25 million or less at arbitration. The ??? is for Betts or Korpikoski, or even Dan Byers as reported by Steve Zipay.)

So why the beef? His contract isn’t bad at all, in fact if you want my opinion its fair if not a little bit of a steal for the Rangers. He will help the power play, we already know he meshes well with Drury, and he is a monster in the shootout. I applaud Glen Sather for getting guys who will fit this new speedy offensive mold. And you all should too, it always seem like sometimes it seems like Ranger fans won’t be happy no matter what Sather does. Give the guy some slack he has done a wonderful job this year. So again … why the beef?

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