Mostly lost in the Wideman discussions yesterday was the fact that Jay Feaster played the Blake Comeau situation perfectly this summer. As we’ve previously discussed, Comeau was bad value at $2.5M+, which is what he woud have cost via his qualifying offer.
Which isn’t to say he wasn’t worth retaining. As predicted, Feaster did the right thing – he chose not to qualify Comeau and then signed him as a free agent at about a 50% discount. So not only do the Flames get the player on a much cheaper ticket this season, but in all likelihood they will get the benefit of a bounce back season as well.
3% Gets you a 50% Discount
The Flames snagged Comeau off of waivers after the Islanders gave up on the former 20-goal scorer. He had a 12-game scoreless streak to open the season so NYI decided the 24-year old was probably done for good (never change, Snow and Wang).
Comeau’s luck didn’t change drastically in Flame colors, although a few pucks eventually did go in for him. As was investigated in depth by Rob Luker a couple of weeks ago, Comeau is a strong candidate to rebound this season:
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 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).
In plain speak, it’s unlikely Comeau and whoever he plays with will continue to shoot blanks indefintely, even if you have a limited faith in his abilities as a sniper. Comeau caught a lot of flak near the end of the year for constantly fumbling or missing out on scoring chances, but he’ll seem like a lot better player if a few more of those start going in.
Not that he needs to regain 20-goal form for the Flames to get value out of his deal, which is why this contract is such a good bet. At $1.25M, Comeau merely has to be a competent 3rd line player to be worth his dollars. Anything above that will be a bonus.
Comeau flashed some tools during his stint in Calgary: he’s fast, he can crash and bang somewhat and he managed to drive possession and scoring chances pretty well against other middle rotation forwards. As a guy in his mid-20’s, Comeau’s also in the right age bracket, so he should be nearing his peak effectiveness.
He doesn’t have the best hockey sense or vision, but the club won’t be asking him to become Pavel Datsyuk for a million and change anyways. The Wideman deal is going to invite controversy for awhile, but there’s really no arguing a no-risk, modertate-upside signing like Comeau’s.