FGD: In the Blake of an Eye

An awful title, I know, but as the Calgary Flames get set to take on the St. Louis Blues tonight, they’ll do it with a new face in the lineup (6 pm, Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960).  The Flames claimed forward Blake Comeau off waivers from the New York Islanders earlier today, picking up the 25 year old who scored 24 goals last season.  On the results front, Calgary is hoping to snap a two game skid after losing the first pair on this four game trip.

The Comeau acquisition is a low to no risk one, even with his lack of points so far this year.  Comeau hasn’t recorded a single point in 16 games this year after a career high 46 last year, so it was pretty clear a change of scenery might benefit the player.  His $2.5 million cap hit expires at the end of this season when he’ll become a restricted free agent.  I spoke to Blake today, and there’s no doubting he’s excited prior to what could be his first game with the Flames.

Blake Comeau with Pat Steinberg

The Lineup

With the addition of Comeau to the active roster, the Flames assigned Paul Byron to the American Hockey League.  The Flames needed to make an immediate roster move, and as much as names like Stajan and Kostopoulos were more popular to be assigned, they are both waiver eligible and thus would have a 24 hour clearance period.  Jay Feaster said today in St. Louis they would like to make a roster move in the near future to bring Byron back up.

If Comeau plays, it’ll likely be in place of Byron directly in the lineup.  You never know in a situation like this, but the feeling is not much will change in terms of lines.

Alex Tanguay-Mikael Backlund-Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross-Olli Jokinen-Rene Bourque
Blake Comeau-Roman Horak-Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos-Brendan Morrison-Tim Jackman

Chris Butler-Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano-Scott Hannan
Derek Smith-T.J. Brodie

Both Smith and Hannan are banged up a little, but both are expected to play.  If one of them can’t go, Cory Sarich is available as a replacement in a pinch.  The Flames are coming off a game where virtually everyone struggled, especially the players put in the high responsibility situations.  The top four blueliners speficially fought it against Detroit, while the Jokinen trio had their worst game of the season, finishing a combined -30 in even strength scoring chances.

Miikka Kiprusoff might have let in a softie on Wednesday night, but for the most part, he was very strong against the Red Wings.  He’ll get the start again tonight.

The Opponent

How things change thanks to a simple move.  Since Ken Hitchcock took over for Davis Payne as Head Coach of the Blues, St. Louis has been a different team.  A game below the .500 mark at the time, this deep team has lost just once in regulation in the eight games since, going 5-1-2 in that span.  It’s more in line with what this team is capable of, because there are few teams deeper in the conference.  The only thing lacking right now is a consistent number one goalie and a true high end player.

That said, there are a number of quality, quality players on this Blues team.  Their top line is crushing possession currently, especially down the middle and on the left side.  With solid depth players throughout, there isn’t an easy matchup for the most part, except if you get to the fourth line where the Flames might be able to have some sustained success, much like they did against Detroit.

Alex Steen-David Backes-T.J. Oshie
Chris Stewart-Patrik Berglund-Matt D’Agostini
Vladimir Sobotka-Jason Arnott-Jamie Langenbrunner
Brett Sterling-Scott Nichol-Chris Porter

Kris Russell-Roman Polak
Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk
Ian Cole-Alex Pietrangelo

The lineup could be even deeper, as David Perron remains out of the lineup with a concussion, but looks very close to returning to the active group after being cleared to play.  Also out with a concussion is Andy McDonald, his second in ten months, so his return is a little more long term.  B.J. Crombeen (broken shoulder) is the only other regular forward on the shelf while Kent Huskins (broken ankle) and Carlo Colaiacovo (hamstring) are on the shelf on the blueline.

Starting goalie Jaroslav Halak has really struggled so far this season, so it’ll be Brian Elliott getting the start in net.  He’s put up some decent, yet unsustainable, numbers thus far with a .954 save percentage and a .946 number overall.  He’s still beatable, but he’s a better option than Halak currently.

The Story

The Flames need a win, regardless, and maybe the addition of Comeau will spark things for them.  They gift wrapped the game and gave it to the Red Wings on Wednesday, and the fact is, if Calgary isn’t playing smart hockey for 60 minutes, they’re not going to win very much, as they’re just not good enough.  The Blues are red hot and a quality opponent, so that smart effort is a necessity tonight.

  • ville de champignons

    Hey, Pat. Definitely a sideways move by Feaster. Can’t help thinking this is going to be a piece of a bigger trade. Gotta get Byron back up, though. Funny, smart and effort, when talking about the Flames.

  • ville de champignons

    A great move as far as I’m concerned.

    Age (25), speed, size/strength, plays physically, plays a 200′ game.

    Only signed to 1 year – if he doesn’t work, nothing lost. If he does and re-signs then you’re laughing.

    Good job by Feaster.

  • ville de champignons

    I like the lines as they are to start, Horak and Stempniak are good linemates for Comeau for a first game, we can send the lines in a bender later.

    Even though both GlennX and Comeau are leftwingers, I wouldn’t mind seeing one take the right wing spot and have either Backlund or Horak center the line, I think that would be interesting to watch.

    Either way, great game to watch now tonight, to bad Byron still couldn’t be in the lineup, although I’m less optimistic about this game than the Detroit game and I was pretty much banking a loss than, STL has been scary good since Hitchcock took over.

    • T&A4Flames

      I believe that Comeau is actually a right shot, he’ll play either wing but why not keep players on their natural sides:

      GlenX-Joker-Stemp
      Bourque-Horak-Comeau

      I do agree with Mayhem, though, I wouldn’t mind seeing Backs switch out with Horak.

      • T&A4Flames

        I thought he was a Left Wing for some reason….., looked it up on NHL.com and he`s listed as a LW, though shoots right.

        So then we could go GlennX – Backlund – Comeau. I wouldn`t mind seeing that, or Horak centering it, either one.

        Curious to see what Brent Sutter does tonight. Wonder if he even entertains putting Comeau up front with Iggy and Backlund, Sutter seems to think putting Jokinen up there is a good idea so who knows.

          • I’m down with this, I could easily see him getting some good PP time as well here, considering how dismal our PP has been.

            Especially if we continue to use Tanguay on the point, our first unit could look like:

            Comeau – Backlund – Iginla, with Giordano and Tanguay on the points. Our second unit looking like:

            GlennX – Jokinen – Bourque(Stempniak), with Bouwmeester and Butler on the points. Comeau and GlennX could switch spots on either the one or two units, but both of them should theoreticly provide each unit with a good physical pressence, not Holmstrom like, but a pressence at the least.

          • T&A4Flames

            And I would be comfortable with that. At 25 years old scoring 15-20 goals he could replace Moss. I like Mosser but 25 is better than 30 and Moss is too injury prone.

          • From what I’m reading from some Islanders fans is that he has some good break away speed, something we are lacking, probably not the fastest guy in the league, but probably better than what we have.

  • Comeau was averaging 13:04 this season. He averaged 18:41 last season, with 2:30 on the PP & 2:15 on the PK. Virtually no PP (0:20) or PK (0:26) time this yr due (in part) to Brian Rolston’s addition.

    Now, lets recoup a 5th rounder for Tom Kostopolous from a team looking for added grit & character.

  • Comeau is a hard case to judge. He plays on the Islanders, with other terrible ES players on a terrible ES team. It’s entirely possible he’s either part of the problem and bad himself or he’s okay and being dragged down by his surroundings.

    I guess we’ll see which it is.

  • everton fc

    I think Comeau swaps spots with Bourque, moving to the RW spot on the second line. He’s a right-handed shot, listed as a RW on HockeyDB.com

    As for Byron… He’s a natural centre… So looks like Stajan’s days may be numbered (To me, Kosto is a nice fit on our fourth line, and decent on the PK)

    Of course, P3L could be demoted. And Comeau’s addition sure doesn’t help Nemisz.

    • No sense keeping Kosto around… he’s 32 yo UFA-to-be. Sure, he’s a nice 4th liner, but this team has had no trouble finding 4th liners. I’m not sure you can get anything much for him, but I’d be happy enough with a 5th. If nothing else, simply waive him – his salary along with the $1.5M the Flames are saving on Hagman would virtually cover Comeau’s addition.

      • Especially with the likes of a Bouma in Abbotsford we have a guy that can take Kosto’s spot rather easily. I’d even start looking at if we want to keep Jackman around for longer than this year, depending on what he wants he can be good trade bait as well.

        I’m just curious what’s gonna happen when our team starts get healthy, we are at 23 players with Babchuk, Carson and Moss all on IR and Byron recently sent down. Are we gonna send Brodie back down? I haven’t looked at the underlying numbers, but just watching the Detroit game he looked better than Smith, Sarich or Babchuk has been all year. I know he doesn’t need to clear waivers, but thats Daryl Sutter thinking, even though he’s better you send him down cause you don’t have to lose someone. Sarich should be traded for whatever we can get, and if not waived, samething with Babchuk and we can run with Brodie, Carson and Smith as the 5/6 guys.

      • everton fc

        I think you move Stajan now. To Abby. They did it w/Kotalik. Time for Matt to feel the same pain.

        If you waive/move Kosto… Byron has to come back as a 4th liner. The 4th line would be

        Byron/Morrison/Jackman

        Or, Bourque is moved w/someone else… Stempniak moves to RW/2nd line… Comeau RW/3rd line… Byron recalled… 2nd line:

        Glencross/Jokinen/Stempniak

        Third line

        Byron/Horak/Comeau.

        Or a 2nd line of

        Glencross/Jokinen/Comeau

        Perhaps…

  • David McConner

    Pat’s 1st choice for a title was actually
    “Having a bad start too?
    Comeau(ver) to the Flames.”
    (sorry)
    I like this move. Now I have to watch the game. We’ll see how it plays out.

  • David McConner

    With some Real dollars tied up in the Hagman deal, I doubt ownership ditches Stajan to the minors as well, I think we unfortunately stuck with him, our best bet is Bourque and maybe Morrison/Kosto/Jackman to make some room. Theres also a bunch of other guys that are making big AHL dollars, I really doubt ownership wants to spend Stajan dollars in the minors. Maybe next season when he is making 2 million less than this season, ugh, that is just disgusting to think about, that even making 2 million less next season he’s still 1-1.5million overpaid.

  • Graham

    Overall, i think Comeau is a reasonable gamble, especially with his contract expiring at the end of the season. If he wants a similar contract next year he is going to have to work to earn it.

    Not impressed with Comeaus +/-, but it is hard to judge when I don’t know much about the quality of his ice time with the Islanders. At least Comeau and Iggy will have something in common to talk about.

    Surprised to see the Flames maxing out their contracts at 50 again, We need to dump some of the low hanging fruit, quality in preferable to quantity.

  • Graham

    Someone suggested dumping Stajan in the minors, but not using the cap space / salary on the big club.

    With the current surplus of players on the Flames , you could pay Stajan $3.5 million in the minors, and save the $3.5 million in Calgary, with a $0 net to the owners?

    • everton fc

      Management dumped Kotalik’s $3mill in the AHL last season. Why not Stajan? Perhaps a team close to the salary floor picks him up on re-entry? Would that be cheaper than a buyout?

      Seems we have no room for Stajan, and he becomes expendable if Morrison is the 4th line centre.

      I can also see us moving Bourque to make room for Byron.

  • Gange

    I think the argument of not wanting to bury $3.5M in minors is bunk.

    Currently for a vast majority of the time, the owners are burying that money in the press box. Granted he takes up a roster spot but they’re already at 50. So whether they bury him in the press box or the minors I don’t think it matters.

    As for recall, I’m not worried someone would pick him up on re-entry as I don’t think he’s a bargain at half salary either.

    Just don’t know what happened to him. Even the modest game he had has completely left him.

    • everton fc

      Didn’t say I agreed. Perhaps it is a cop-out. Perhaps Iggy is simply aging. Slowing down.

      I think the latter. But I also think Iggy’s on the cusp of a breakout. Yet, in a recent interview, he sort of skirted-around the issue of how he’s being used, and that he is an offencive-type player, and seemed to be trying to say he needs to be able to play his game more…

      Whatever that means…

  • everton fc

    The dead-wood on this team is certainly obvious, though.

    Babchuk
    Stajan
    Sarich
    Bourque
    Perhaps now, Morrison (though I think Brent trust him immensely)
    Perhaps JBo

    Perhaps Kosto, though one could argue this one.

    And what about Moss? When he returns, if he centres the 4th line… Which I think is a good fit… Morrison and Stajan become expendable.

    What do you do when Carson comes back? (When is he scheduled to return?) With Brodie doing well, and Smith playing okay… Babchuk and Sarich are even more expendable. One of them has to go. Or both.

    You ever notice when Moss goes down with an injury.. The team seems to go flat and drop in the standings?

    Or am I just imagining this???

  • Captain Ron

    I like this move to claim Comeau. With him having family in the city it could have a real positive effect on his play and outlook on his hockey future. I have a feeling this could be something that we end up talking about more down the road. He has what it takes to be an NHL’er if played in the right spot on the roster. I can’t believe that some other team would not have taken him if we passed on our chance.

    • everton fc

      Agree. He seems like a decent kid. It’ll be interesting to see who they send down/waive to make room for Byron’s recall.

      PL3? Stajan?? Babchuk??? Sarich????

  • Two words… Sean Avery. Rangers picked him up for $2M each season over 3 seasons. And he is much more of a liability and WAY more useless than Stajan. Why wouldn’t Stajan get picked up on re-entry waivers?

    The only problem there is us being stuck with half his salary for 3 or 4 more years.