Picking up Blake Comeau is Planning for the Summer

 

A long time ago, I wrote a huge essay-like dissertation for my old site on how I would rate GMs on the body of their work.  I used Darryl Sutter as my topic du jour.

While some of my conclusions look a bit off in hindsight, the section on talent acquisition still holds true in my mind.  Any good GM needs to be able to acquire talent in a variety of ways and having a "sense of value" is incredibly important.

Side note: if you read that old article, feel free to laugh at some of my conclusions. The premise was right, but my sense of success was a little skewed. Weird to think it was only 1.5 years ago.

However, in the cap era, sense of value essentially breaks into two main components. The first is opportunity cost and the second is the amount of risk. If you want a further explanation of opportunity cost, I rambled about it at Hockey Prospectus last week.

Why am I spewing random theory about how GMs operate? Because it's all incredibly pertinent to the Flames claiming Blake Comeau off waivers on Friday.

 

Essentially, it plays out like this. Any decision a GM makes, is a decision to NOT make other moves. By claiming Comeau and his $2.5 million cap hit, the Flames are choosing to NOT spend that $2.5 million on another option.

At $2.5 million, Comeau appears to be a poor value, especially considering that he struggled immensely on the lowly Islanders this season.  If he can't crack the Isles lineup, what good is he going to be to the Flames?

Comeau is 25 years old and this is his 5th season in the NHL. He's definitely past the point of being given some time to show his true talent. That said, the chance he's been given to display his talents has been on the talent-deprived Islanders.

Looking at Comeau's 23 and 24-year-old seasons, should give us the best view of his actual ability as they represent his 3rd and 4th seasons in the league.

Season

ES Pts/60

Corsi

Corsi Rel

Adjusted Corsi

Zonestart %

Corsi Rel QoC rank

2009-10

1.99

-3.6

2.7

-3.1

47.3

3rd line

2010-11

1.79

-6.7

2.8

-5.7

44.3

3rd line

 

Essentially, Comeau has been a winger that can score at a Top 6 rate and is a wash possession-wise while starting in his own zone fairly often.  He just isn't a top-comp player.

Guys like Comeau can be very valuable when a team already has a couple lines capable of playing the big guns in either a Power-vs-Power matchup or as a shut-down line.  Unfortunately the Flames have several players that are more Comeau than Malhotra.

Where the pickup of Comeau brings value, however, is in the low-risk nature of his contract.  He currently has 1 year left on his $2.5 million per year contract, and is a restricted free agent at the end of the season.  The Flames will have the ability to walk away from arbitration, offer a lower salary or basically control the negotiations in a variety of ways.

With the Flames scheduled to have various secondary scorers reaching free agency this summer (Jokinen, Stempniak, Moss, Morrison & Jackman), the RFA status for Comeau gives them a more controllable back-up plan.

Obviously, all this hinges on Comeau having a decent year.  Looking at his performance on the Isles the last two seasons, I don't see why he can't score 30 points over the remaining 60 games with Calgary.

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