Ales Kotalik 1

Rangers Order A Buffalo Wing

Okay, so he’s coming to the Rangers via Edmonton, but I still couldn’t resist the headline. The Rangers have reportedly signed right wing Ales Kotalik to a three year, $9M deal that only serves to increase the speculation over the continued tenure of Nikolai Zherdev with the Rangers.

In terms of what to expect, he’s been a relatively consistent performer throughout his career with Buffalo, and a brief tenure with the Oilers who acquired him late last season. In four of his six full seasons in the NHL he’s reached 20 or more goals, and set career highs of 25 goals and 37 assists in the season following the lockout.

Not used by either of his previous teams on the pnealty kill, Kotalik did manage to average 2:50 of power play time last year, and featured as a point man with the Sabres. A heavy, accurate slap shot more than once gave the Rangers troubles when they faced up against their cross-state rivals.

The 30 year old Czech comes to the Rangers on a three year deal, which makes him the fourth right winger on the roster behind Marian Gaborik, Zherdev (Unsigned – RFA) and Ryan Callahan (Unsigned – RFA). With the additional $3M in Cap spaced used to sign him, it’s hard to see how the Rangers can really afford to keep Zherdev.

What seems the most likely option is that the Rangers will make a trade to help address the loss of Scott Gomez at center. The leading candidates remain Patrick Marleau and Brad Richards, though additional names remain in play.

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