Grading the Islanders: Blake Comeau, new & improved 57 sauce

Note: See previous threads to discuss the alleged "deep financial trouble" or the political casino madness, or the shameful cowardice of Maxim Lapierre. To discuss and/or vote on previous report cards, visit Josh Bailey's, or Sean Bergenheim's or Martin Biron's.

In 2009-10 Blake Comeau played eight more games than the previous season (seven if you consider his final game lasted two minutes), averaged a minute less of ice time, yet scored a full 10 more goals -- none of them on the powerplay -- and maybe, just maybe, figured this NHL thing out at age 23-24.

If you saw it coming -- whether you expected 11 goals in his final 18 games or not -- stand up, gloat and be counted. And do tell us, will he repeat the feat next year?


Blake Comeau

#57 / Right Wing / New York Islanders

6-1

207

Feb 18, 1986

3

1 year at $800k salary, $650k cap hit

2.9 (5-point scale)

'I sure hope we see Assertive Comeau and not Perimeter Blake.'


Go Net Young Man, Go Net

It's no secret what finally clicked this year for Comeau, who curiously talked in preseason of becoming a "true power forward" despite an average frame: He finally followed Scott Gordon and others' advice ... and shot the puck.

He had 78 shots on net in 53 games in 2008-09. In 2009-10, he registered 133 shots in 61 games. From about 1.5 per game to over 2 per game. His shooting percentage (12.8%) also bounced back to where it was two seasons ago (11.9, vs. 9.0 last year), but at a young age in a limited sampling I'm not going to read a whole lot into that.

Because I'm not a coach but like to play one on the Internet, I'll quote my random fact from last year's report card:

Random Fact: (Not exactly a fact, but...) Comeau's game is passing first, as shown by his stats, but he possesses a dangerous shot when he 1) uses it, and 2) drives to the net to get it off.

Oh, snap.

About that assertiveness, and driving to the net: I was flippant about his power forward aspirations, but his 111 credited hits were among team leaders.


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG Hits TOI PPtoi PKtoi SOG PCT
2009-10 - Blake Comeau 61 17 18 35 -2 40 0 1 2 111 15:24 0:29 2:00 133 12.8


'What would you say ... you do here?'

Don't know how much we'll need Comeau as a physical presence (although when he's hitting, he appears more engaged in the game), but fortunately he has multiple skills, not the least of which is the speed and hockey sense to be a reliable penalty killer. He had a hand in four shorthanded goals this season (scoring one), and he was Scott Gordon's third-most used PK forward (in TOI per game) behind Richard Park and someone named "Nate Thompson."

I'm pretty sure a contending team has someone better to bump Comeau off John Tavares' wing on the depth chart, but his flourish in that role at the end of the season was a nice sign that he can play in such company when called upon. That's big. Really, his future production (and earnings) are in his hands, with a bit of that also under the influence of the GoGo pulling the ice time strings. And I guess a bit depends on which side he's on and what if any wing additions the Isles make this summer.

Advancy-fancy: By advanced figures at Behind the Net, Comeau had the third-worst relative +/- "rating" among Isles forwards who played 40 games or more. (But Okposo and Tavares are the other two.) His quality of competition was 9th of 12, his quality of teammates 6th of 12 -- these are all 5-on-5, mind you. I don't see a whole lot to read there thanks to his evolution over the course of a season mostly spent at age 23. Check back with me next year, as he'll either continue his February-onward growth or prove to us that was a hot streak that most second-round picks are capable of.

For what it's worth, on a better team his -17 from last season improved to -2 this season. Like last season, he got hot in the February-March period. That none of his 17 goals came on the powerplay is a really nice sign about his 5-on-5 potential.

The Poem

(Per tradition of delightful cheesiness. Though this one has a Van Morrison influence.)

Oh oh, Comeau
Roll me over domino
Gone back and forth on where you'll go
Till you play 80 I don't know

Don't want to discuss it
Not time for a change
No need for argument
Just play your game

Go to the net,
Shoot; please GoGo
Then we'll be cheerin'
"Hey-ho, Comeau"

The Grade

A few injuries and early healthy scratches limited Comeau to 61 games this season, which was still a career high. Presumably next season we can hope for closer to 82. At what scoring rate? Well, that's why we watch, I suppose: It's an unwritten script.

As for the script already finished, the season just completed, please issue your grade on Comeau's 2009-10 season relative to the expectations you had for him in the preseason. Ten is as high as you can go, while 1 means he didn't meet a single expectation you had. 5 and 6 are the middle ground. You get the idea.

Thanks for playing, As always, leave any additional thoughts, quibbles, additional data or amusing tangents in comments.

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