Blake Comeau: Bounce Back Candidate


(New York Ranger writer Rob Luker recently took a look a Blake Comeau’s season. Being a Rags fan, he didn’t have anywhere to publish his findings, so he kindly sent his article over to us at FlamesNation and NHLNumbers.)

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By: Rob Luker

Blake Comeau scored his first point(s) of the season against the Columbus Blue Jackets on December 1st, 2011 with a goal and an assist in a 4-3 shootout loss. Ironically, these points were not registered in a New York Islanders jersey, the team that he had been with regularly since 2007; but with the Calgary Flames, whom had claimed Comeau the day after Thanksgiving 2011. He signed a one year deal worth $2.5 Million with the Islanders last summer, and although his future with the Islanders was uncertain after 2012, I don’t think anyone could have predicted Comeau only scoring 15 points in 74 games.

Comeau had a career high 24 goals and 22 assists in 2010-11 while shooting 13.2%. Somewhat high, yes, but in 168 NHL games prior to the fall of 2010, his career average Shot% had been around 11.2%, which suggests Comeau didn’t enjoy extreme luck in cracking the 20-goal barrier. Furthermore, he upped his personal shot rate slightly while also seeing a decrease in his 5v5 on-ice shooting% in 2010-11, so there was really no reason to expect him to come crashing down to earth in 2011-12.

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Given all that, it seemed a safe bet Comeau would hover around his 0.6 PPG clip he had produced for two previous seasons in 2011-12, and VUKOTA didn’t see any drop off either. He’s slated to be an RFA this summer, and although none of us truly know if Calgary will attempt to retain him, I’d be surprised if didn’t end up as an UFA on July 1.

So did the middle-six forward, who has a respectable juniors translation ceiling, really just lose most of his offensive ability during the offseason of 2011? Only time will truly tell, but I’d be willing to bet the team who takes a (small) risk on him for the fall of 2012 won’t regret it (aka I’m hoping someone points him out to NYR/Sather).

Good Fundamentals, Bad Luck

Let’s start with why I think Comeau can bounce back: his Corsi numbers. Although he played against the worst quality of competition (QoC) in his career (by a measly 0.05), his relative corsi (Corsi Rel) shot up to 8.4 (from 2.8 and previously 2.7) which was good for 4th on the Flames and in the top half of the league amongst forwards (both min. 20 GP). His Corsi Rel QoC saw a slight bump up seeing that he dipped in overall Quality of Competition, but the key takeaway here is that it all seems to check out. Blake Comeau still moved the puck north despite his horrible output.

Outside of his decent possession metrics, the rest comes down to everything involved with shooting the puck when Comeau was on the ice. He managed a 3.6% personal shooting percentage this season, when his prior career average was approximately 11.7%. Sure, that is probably part regression from the 2010-11 career high 13.2%, but I’m going with mostly bad luck.

One thing Comeau will have to improve in order to ensure a rebound is his shot rate. Part of the reason for his 2010-11 career year was that managed a personal rate of 2.4/game, while last year he dipped down to ~1.85. Sure, sounds small, but that’s good for nearly 50 more shots in a season difference of only 3 games.

One final reason Comeau should be able to bounce back: his on-ice teammates shooting, which only changed by a +0.03 margin from his career year to last season. Meanwhile, his on-ice shooting% dropped almost by half as I mentioned above. The only conclusion that I can come to is that Comeau, outside of shooting 27% less than his career year of 2010-11, had just a brutal year when it came to variance (which his PDO of 97.9 reflects).

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To put this all into “fun”, more taditional narratives: Blake Comeau couldn’t buy a goal if he wanted, his inconsistent play finally caught up with him, and he is definitely a candidate for the most enigmatic Canadian of the 2011-12 NHL season.

Or he just had sh*t luck.

Note: All stats discussed are at 5v5. Also, here are the Flames scoring chance summary (at 5v5) for the season from Rob Vollman at FlamesNation. It wasn’t pretty, but Comeau wasn’t inept either. Still stand by my luck theory.

  • Graham

    I wouldn’t even consider resigning him as a RFA at $2.5 million. If he walks he becomes a UFA, and you can try and resign him at a much lower price point. A two year contract in the $1.7 – $1.9 million per season sounds about right.

  • everton fc

    Perhaps Comeau is nothing more than a mucker/grinder with some speed, like Jones. Therefore, and moving away from the concept of a 4th line-full-of-goons, I propose signing Comeau if we don’t sign Moss, at the contract Graham proposes… Moving Jackman as part of a deal… and putting a 4th line on the ice that looks like this:

    Bouma – Jones – Comeau

    If we sign Moss:

    Bouma – Jones – Moss

    A 4th line that can muck/grind/score. Similar to what the Wings put on the ice in 2002:

    Maltby – Draper – McCarty

    Not saying any of the combos above could hold any of the Wings jock straps. I’m simply entertaining a concept, one discussed here last year, “pre-season”, when we lost a 5th round pick for PL3 (a 5th round pick that we could use in a deeper-than-normal draft)

    I’ll add this: if Aliu can actually learn how to skate and stay out of trouble (can you imagine he and Radulov in the same dressing room?!)… I’d consider him as 4th line RW replacement for Jackman. And I still think Desbiens could help here… Both he and Aliu can outscore Jackman.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Just curious, just because he’s an RFA & I understand the qualifying offer for a team to retain his rights if a team were to put an offersheet to him, what is to stop us from negotiating a 2-3 year deal at lets say 1.5Mill prior to July 1? That can happen cant it, we dont neccessarily need to let him go to UFA status prior to being able to offer him a different contract? Just wondering.

    • I believe Comeau has to be qualified at his current salary + a small percentage increase. If not, he is more or less released as a UFA, wherein the Flames will have the option of inking him to the deal you describe.

    • From my understanding, the cutdown arbitration means that they can offer him 85% of his current salary, but that’s the minimum. And once the arbitrator makes a decision (after, of course, Gillis and Vigneault make Raymond cry), the Canucks CANNOT walk away from it.

      I wouldn’t want us to qualify Comeau for like $2M, then have his award be $3M or something ridiculous. Just do what Pittsburgh did with Kennedy – cut Comeau loose with the understanding that he will have a contract waiting for him July 1. Albeit a smaller one, because frankly, he didn’t do much to deserve anything more than $2M per year. Maybe give him one year at $2M (MAX) and see what he can do in a full season.

      RE: Anders Lindback going to Tampa – I agree. I think Yzerman has found his starting goalie for next season. Looks like it’ll be the Panthers, Leafs, Caps, maybe the Sharks, and Blue Jackets looking for goalies. One of them gets Luongo, another gets Kipper.

  • Thx Kent. That is a weird rule that at the players choice to resign an extension prior to having to wait until they become a UFA. Then again, why would a player do that then & limit his choices & potential $$$. Sorry just babbling.

  • Looks like Tampa is out of the equation for any Kipper scenarios. Looks like they got Lindberg from Nashville for 2 seconds & a 3rd & a Caron(not sure who he is) Bummer, thought they were a good target for a Kipper deal.

    • Yzerman coming up through the Red Wings system (where you avoid paying for goaltending if at all possible) it makes sense he would look for a cheaper alternative.

      I still think CBJ is the best bet to move Kipper. They have a need to start improving the team right away and even average goaltending would be a huge improvement over what they suffered through last year. Hell, you could even sell them on the “Kipper can mentor Mason” angle I bet.

  • I think that Comeau is worthy of retaining, but his contract situation makes it awkward to do so.

    I, too, would like to see him in Flames colors, but for a lower dollar figure. He looked like a solid 5 on 5 guy although his scoring touch was missing and he was solid on the PK.

  • everton fc

    But where does Comeau fit? Nowhere but the right-side of the 4th line, in my view. Or do you sign him over Moss, Stempniak…

    We trade Kipper to Columbus, I’d love to move Jackman as part of this deal and get Dorsett. A 4th line of Bouma-Jones-Dorsett. Or, if you can move the left-handed shooting Dorsett to the left-side, some possible combos:



    Bouma gets pushed out…

    I see more upside to Dorsett than Bouma.

    Just a thought. A concept. Since Columbus came up.

  • everton fc


    I’m aware how the cut back arbitration would work, I’m just not sure if Comeau qaulifies for it, could be based on games played or years played, not sure, that was my question.

    As well Comeau can’t be qualified at 2M, he would have to be Qualifed at his current salary of 2.5M plus I believe 10%, and I don’t believe he has any arbitration rights this year either. And even if he went to an Arbitor, even the most brain dead arbitor would never award him anything more than his current salary. He would accept the first QO he would get as thats better than ANYTHING he would ever get on the open market.

    That Lindback trade is great, because it really starts putting the screws to Vancouver as well if Luongo truly wants out. If they can’t find a trading partner soon, the window for an offer sheet on Schnieder will open soon after that, and taht could REALLY put Vancouver in a pickle.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Don’t Comeau’s parents live in Calgary? If that means anything to him, he might be a cheap pickup for the Flames. I’d take Comeau at $1.2M for 3 years. If he puts up 20 goals again in a season, he be prime trade-bait. I liked his play last year, but he definately could use some consistency in his game.

  • everton fc


    I say sign him. You have the right price, though I’d go 2 years.

    But he only futs on the 4th line, RW. That’s how I see it, unless you go w/Comeau over Moss and Stempniak. I think he’s a grinder like Jones, with more skills/offencive potential.

    Perhaps we will. He is younger. Has local roots, which sometimes inspires players…

  • loudogYYC

    I’m really not a fan of Comeau, mostly because sometimes he looks like a complete bonehead on the ice. I kinda think he was victim of a big salary though, he seemed to put a lot of pressure on himself and rarely brought it all together like we saw Stajan do for 10-15 games.

    That said, I don’t argue with underlying numbers and if he can keep those up, he should stay. No more than $1.3M per I hope.

    As usual, the Flames have a log jam in the bottom 6. Outside of Iginla, who I think will be gone at next seasons deadline, Calgary’s RW is bottom 6 through and through with Moss, Stempniak, Comeau and Jackman.

  • loudogYYC

    Unluckily this is lIkely a case of another player benefitting from quality playing time with the islanders. I’m sure lots of teams let up on them and let em have a goal once they’re down by three. Meanwhile, in the tighter checking west scorers have a harder time finding the space for give me goals.

    I’ll pass on Comeau

  • loudogYYC


    Hey boss, did you know that in Comeau’s 24 goal season, 12 goals (half of them) were in Islanders wins. Did you know another 9 came in one goal losses? So 21 of Comeau’s 24 goals that season came in either wins or one goal losses. 21 of them! Not to mention 7 of the goals were against Western Conference teams in 17 games against the west.

    So my point is, your statement couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Do some research before you pop your mouth off, would you?