Kotalik assigned to Heat

Ales Kotalik, a talented-but-underachieving scorer with a $3-million-per-year contract, has been assigned to the Abbotsford Heat.

The Calgary Flames assigned Ales Kotalik to the Abbotsford Heat on Friday morning.

The Calgary Flames assigned Ales Kotalik to the Abbotsford Heat on Friday morning.

Ales Kotalik, a talented-but-underachieving scorer with a $3-million-per-year contract, has been assigned to the Abbotsford Heat.

The 32-year-old right winger from the Czech Republic cleared NHL waivers Friday morning. He’s slated to join the local AHL club on Feb. 2, after the all-star break.

“I want to start rewarding our players in Abbotsford who have earned and deserve recalls, and I want to give (Flames head coach) Brent (Sutter) more options with respect to his line-up and sitting players who are not delivering,” Calgary Flames acting general manager Jay Feaster said in a press release.

“This assignment gives us the roster flexibility we need going forward, and it demonstrates that we are serious about doing whatever it takes to continue our push to make the playoffs.”

Kotalik’s offensive skills are undoubtedly NHL-calibre – he eclipsed the 20-goal plateau on three occasions with the Buffalo Sabres between 2001 and 2008. But since signing as a free agent with the New York Rangers in 2009, Kotalik has struggled, mustering just 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists) in 91 games.

Kotalik, obtained in a trade by the Flames last spring, suffered a knee injury in September, and has three points – all goals – and a minus-8 rating in 20 games with Calgary this season.

Kotalik is in the second year of a three-year contract that guarantees $3 million US annually, and sending him to Abbotsford creates salary cap flexibility for the Flames. As with all Heat player salaries, Kotalik will be paid by the NHL parent club.

ICE CHIPS:

• The Heat play the Houston Aeros on the road this evening, and face the Texas Stars on Saturday before dispersing for the AHL all-star break. They return to action on Jan. 4 against the Chicago Wolves – the sixth game of 10 in a row on the road.

• Craig Conroy, another Flames forward who cleared waivers this week, is taking the weekend to decide whether to retire as a player or report to the Heat.