When I talked to Ales Kotalik on Monday, he made it clear his preference was to stay with the Sabres. But he knew he was heading into unrestricted free agency and that made it possible he could be dealt.
When it actually happened just before the deadline Wednesday, Kotalik said he was "shocked" to learn he was going to Edmonton. Strangely enough, he joined his new team Thursday in a very familiar venue -- Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, where the Oilers met the Senators
"I was in Buffalo for a long time," Kotalik said. "The first couple hours [after the trade], it was a pill that was tough to swallow. It continued until late night. Right now, you jump in with the guys and it feels better. I just have to get used to wearing a different sweater now."
Kotalik was a good guy and always interesting to talk to. He had a deep persepctive on himself and the game. He's been in the Sabres organization since he was drafted nearly 11 years ago and Lindy Ruff seemed a little emotional Thursday in talking about their good-bye conversation.
Kotalik, however, was also a frustrating player to watch. You always thought he could do more with that big body. And even one of his greatest talents -- his accuracy in shootouts -- came with a big asterisk. If he had done more in the first 65 minutes of the game, the thinking went, maybe the team wouldn't have even been in the shootout!
Kotalik was immediately inserted on Edmonton's first line with fellow Czech Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff. Yes, I said the first line. Maybe the Oilers think they'll catch lightning in a bottle. Hey, didn't Steve Bernier look like a future all-star in his first couple games here last year? But the more likely scenario is Kotalik has a good game here or there, scores on the power play every so often and then disappears a lot too.
Post your thoughts on Kotalik's career and his departure in the comments section. And click below to see his chat with Edmonton reporters Thursday in Ottawa.
taggedex-Sabres | NHL trade deadline | Sabres