Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

September 26, 2011

Sabres get under cap, assign Kotalik, Morrisonn to Rochester

BUFFALO — Finally, after nearly three months over the salary cap, the Sabres got under Monday, sending winger Ales Kotalik and defenseman Shaone Morrisonn to AHL Rochester after the veterans cleared waivers.

Of course, the Sabres are still on the hook for their salaries, so they’ll likely eat more than $5 million this season.

But they had to get under by opening night, and by shedding the underachievers they’re now $929,643 under the $64.3 million cap, according to capgeek.com (about $425,000 is bonus money). The Sabres went over the cap July 1 and had been approximately $3.5 million over for about two months.

All along, waiving Kotalik ($3 million) and Morrisonn ($2.075 M) appeared to be inevitable. However, general manager Darcy Regier insisted he wanted to make trades to get under. But with nothing available, the Sabres waived the two on Saturday.

Mark Stowe, Morrisonn’s agent, said the 28-year-old will report to Rochester, his first minor-league stint since 2004-05.

Kotalik’s status is uncertain. The 32-year-old said earlier in training camp he nearly returned home to the Czech Republic following an AHL assignment last season. Regier said Saturday that a European league could be a possible destination for Kotalik.

Last week, Kotalik said, “For me, there is no other option than to be on (the Sabres).”

A message left with Larry Kelly, Kotalik’s agent, wasn’t returned.

Clearly, the Sabres were forced to take Kotalik, a strong scorer here for seven seasons, back in the Robyn Regehr trade with Calgary in June. Kotalik only scored 22 goals in 116 games after he left the Sabres at the 2009 trade deadline.

Morrisonn, meanwhile, suffered through a disappointing, injury-filled campaign after signing a two-year, $4.15 million contract in August 2010. The additions of Regehr and defenseman Christian Ehroff, along with the progressions of some youngsters, made him expendable.

Neither player got into an exhibition game. If an injury had left them unavailable for the opening-night roster, the Sabres would’ve been forced to waive or trade other players.

“He realizes it’s a business,” Stowe said about Morrisonn’s feelings. “Obviously, at the same time, he would’ve liked to be able to play a game or two to prove himself.”

If the Sabres recall Kotalik or Morrisonn, which seems unlikely, they would have to pass through re-entry waivers. If they were claimed, the Sabres would have to pay half of the salary.

Stowe said Morrisonn never requested a trade. Morrisonn doesn’t regret signing with the Sabres, either.

“We approached it you go to camp and hope you got a shot for the job, right?” Stowe said.

That shot never materialized.

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