Flames place Kotalik on re-entry waivers

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

CALGARY - Ales Kotalik's disappointing tenure with the Calgary Flames took another turn when he was placed on re-entry waivers Wednesday.

Kotalik, who was sent to the minors in late January, could be claimed by any of the 29 other NHL teams for half his salary, which is worth US$3 million per season and runs through the 2011-12 campaign.

If another team claims Kotalik, the Flames would be on the hook for half his salary, and that money would also count against the salary cap.

Flames acting GM Jay Feaster said through a team spokesman he didn't wish to comment on the decision until the waiver process was finished Thursday at 10 a.m.

Kotalik's agent, Larry Kelly, didn't reply to messages.

If he isn't claimed, Kotalik could rejoin the Flames, but that doesn't seem likely based on his performance for the team since he was acquired in a controversial trade last season which sent Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust to the Rangers for Kotalik and now-departed forward Christopher Higgins.

In 46 NHL games since the trade, Kotalik managed just six goals and eight points, well off the expectations of a four-time 20-goal scorer with a big-ticket contract.

Kotalik suffered a knee injury in the pre-season which kept him out of action until early December, but scored three goals in 20 games before being sent to the minors.

He has no goals and six assists in nine games with the AHL Abbotsford Heat, numbers which don't usually bring visions of a player who has earned a callup from the minors.

The decision to put him on re-entry waivers is mostly likely a last-ditch attempt to see if another team would want the player without surrendering any assets in return. The Edmonton Oilers tried that tact last weekend with Sheldon Souray, but there were no takers and Souray remains in the minors.

It could also mean a trade is afoot, and the Flames must summon him from the minors before making the move, or Kotalik will go play for a team in Europe.

However, the Flames are more likely to keep him in with the farm team through the end of the season.

He recently said he expects to play in Europe next season if he's not on a NHL roster.

The Flames may also be considering a buyout of his contract, which would cost the team $1 million each of the next two seasons, money which would also count against the salary cap.

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