CALGARY ó When Calgary Flames training camp opens in the fall, Ales Kotalik expects to be there in the best shape of his career.
The Flames winger left the Saddledome Wednesday afternoon after the teamís garbage-bag day dismissing the notion the organization could ask him to play in Europe so it can get salary-cap relief.
The Czech winger, who was acquired from the New York Rangers in the Olli Jokinen deal along with Christopher Higgins, has two years remaining on his contract for $3-million per season.
Although the 31-year-old had just three goals in 26 games with the Flames, he believes he will return to the form that three times had him hit the 20-goal mark in the NHL.
ďIím looking forward to next year and being with this group right from the start. Iím looking to do big things here,Ē Kotalik said, adding he is stunned to hear the Europe suggestion.
ďIím not sure who is bringing those things up. The bottom line is I have a contract for the next two seasons. I donít know what is going to happen and itís not up to me.
ďI know anything can happen. Whoever tells you something, it can be different the next day.
ďI will take the approach this summer as I always do. I will come back in great shape. Hopefully I will come back to those scoring years.Ē
Sending a player to Europe so his contract doesnít count against the cap is something the Flames have already done in the past with the likes of Marcus Nilson.
Itís a drastic move as the team would essentially pay the salary but get no value from the player.
Kotalik is convinced he can help the Flames.
In 2005-06, he scored 25 goals and added 37 assists for the Buffalo Sabres, but his point production dropped every year until he was traded last season to the Edmonton Oilers.
After signing with the Rangers as a free agent, Kotalik had a tumultuous time in New York and was a healthy scratch until the Jokinen deal came down.
ďThis season didnít end up the way I hoped it would,Ē said Kotalik, who had 11 goals in 71 games.
ďThereís nothing I can do about it right now. You have to bounce back from those kind of seasons. I know I still have it in me. I know I can be a goal-scorer in this league.Ē
Kotalik wasnít asked to join the Czech team for the world championships and he will head back to New York to finish some loose ends with his place there.