News and notes: Kotalik on re-entry waivers

With the NHL trade deadline less than a week away, the Abbotsford Heat's personnel situation is beginning to get very interesting.

Heat forward Ales Kotalik was placed on re-entry waivers on Wednesday

Heat forward Ales Kotalik was placed on re-entry waivers on Wednesday

With the NHL trade deadline less than a week away, the Abbotsford Heat’s personnel situation is beginning to get very interesting.The Calgary Flames, the Heat’s parent club, placed a pair of $3-million-per-year players on waivers this week. Niklas Hagman, a three-time 20-goal scorer who was playing on the Flames’ fourth line, cleared waivers on Tuesday morning. He’s sticking with Calgary for the time being, but he’s eligible to be sent to Abbotsford any time over the next 10 games or 30 days. On Wednesday morning, Heat forward Ales Kotalik was placed on re-entry waivers. He was assigned to Abbotsford in late January, and has six assists in nine AHL games. Re-entry waivers would allow another NHL team to claim Kotalik, but the Flames would pay half his salary.”What can you say about that? It’s a chance that you can get back (to the NHL),” Kotalik said following Wednesday’s Heat practice.”I’ll have to wait and see what’s going to happen.”Heat head coach Jim Playfair said the Hagman-Kotalik waiver moves are all about the Flames trying to “plan their best scenarios” in advance of Monday’s trade deadline. “I think the organization wanted to figure out where Hagman was mentally in his game,” he said. “A fourth-line player like that, if he’s not impacting the game, you put him on waivers and gauge the interest.”With Kotes, I think it’s a situation where they need to find out before the trade deadline what the interest level is with him. If he gets claimed by tomorrow, it opens up a roster spot, and maybe they can make something happen by way of a trade going forward.”MACMURCHY ADDS SPEED, PHYSICALITYIn a move to shore up their fourth line, the Heat signed Ryan MacMurchy to a player tryout contract (PTO) on Wednesday. Playfair felt that Bryan Cameron was miscast as a fourth-liner – he believes the rookie right winger needs to be among the team’s top nine forwards to be effective. MacMurchy’s speed and physicality make him a more natural fit alongside left winger Stefan Meyer and centre Gaelan Patterson.”You’ve got two real fast skaters and a grinding left winger, and I think it’s an ideal situation for a fourth line,” Playfair said. “You can trust to put them on the ice.”Cameron, a noted sniper in junior, has six goals and seven assists in 52 games this season to go with a team-worst -16 rating.MacMurchy had 33 points in 39 games with the ECHL’s Victoria Salmon Kings this year. The Regina, Sask. native was a ninth-round draft choice by the St. Louis Blues in 2002, and won an NCAA title with the Wisconsin Badgers in 2006.”Hopefully I can come in and impress, and give them what they need,” MacMurchy said. “I’m just going to keep it simple early. If situations present themselves where I can show my skill, I’ll do it. But first and foremost, I’m just trying to use my speed to get pucks in and be physical.”CENTRES ON SHOPPING LISTLast year, the Flames made a deadline-day deal with the Heat in mind, sending winger Riley Armstrong to the Detroit Red Wings organization for blueliner Andy Delmore. If there’s a move to be made this year, a centre would be at the top of Playfair’s shopping list. Quintin Laing and Greg Nemisz – both natural wingers – are currently playing out of position in the middle.”It’s not an ideal situation for their development or the betterment of our group,” Playfair noted. “But they’re the two best-qualified guys.”Playfair said he met with Flames GM Jay Feaster last Thursday for a review of the AHL club.”If there’s a trade to be made to upgrade our group, I’m sure he’s willing to do that,” he said. “It’s just a matter of seeing what’s out there for us.”NEGRIN GOOD TO GOJohn Negrin has been cleared to return to game action after recovering from knee surgery. “It’s up to the coaches right now,” said Negrin, who has been skating with the team for two weeks.The sophomore defenceman had surgery last March to repair a broken kneecap, but one of the screws broke over the summer, necessitating a second procedure last fall to remove the screws and a bone fragment.ROOKIES PICK UP THE TABThe rookie dinner is a time-honoured tradition in hockey, and on Tuesday the Heat freshmen took their turn to buy the veterans a meal.Lance Bouma declined to reveal the exact damage to his bank account, other than to say it was “enough.” It doesn’t hurt that there are nine rookies on the Heat roster to split the bill.”It was good for the guys to go have some fun like that together,” Bouma said with a grin.