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Grading the Islanders: Blake Comeau

The fourth in a series partly thieved from inspired by Japers' Rink and Mile High Hockey, among others. If you missed previous editions, there's still time to vote your grade for Josh Bailey, Sean Bergenheim and Joe Callahan...

So the Islanders' 2004 1st-round, 2nd-round and 7th-round picks walk into a bar. The 1st-rounder says: "I'll play in the NHL as early as any of you."

The 7th-rounder says: "I'll play more NHL games than any of you."

The 2nd-rounder says: "Yeah, but I'll be an Islander when the team is actually good again and the Coliseum is rocking."

Well, it's a theory, anyway, though there's work yet to do. But such is the hope for Blake Comeau, a lone youth-supply bright spot in Ted Nolan's final year (excluding Kyle Okposo's debut), who had to work, work, work his way back up from Bridgeport to earn new coach Scott Gordon's love.

Blake Comeau

#57 / Right Wing / New York Islanders



Feb 18, 1986


$692k cap hit, in final year of entry deal (RFA afterward)

Scorer #2 of the youth movement! ...IF he makes the team...

2008-09 - Blake Comeau 53 7 18 25 -17 32 2 0 0 90 16:16 78 9.0

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.

"This is our concern, Dude" Fact: Minus-17 is an ugly figure on a team that improved its goal differential during the 2nd half, which is when he played. But -10 of that came in December, when Comeau joined a team mired in an ugly 2-10-2 month.

The Story: As alluded to above, Comeau -- after getting our hopes up last season with flashes of hands and hockey sense -- wasn't recalled to the Islanders squad until Dec. 6 this past season. It was perplexing, to say the least, that Scott Gordon didn't have a place for one of the few youngsters to already show promise at the NHL level. Much speculation ensued among fans as Comeau nabbed 19 points (4-15) in 19 games at Bridgeport. But a closer look at Comeau's game revealed some hints of why his style needed adjustments before fitting Gordon's system.

The Good: A 2004 second-round pick who took off late in junior, Comeau's point production last season mirrored the more heralded Josh Bailey (who, granted, is four years younger). Had 11 points in a 10-game stretch in Feb.-March that was part of the late-season Kid Line excitement. While most of us fans pouted, Comeau did not upon his pre-season demotion to the AHL. After making his way back and even rushing back from a wrist injury to help the farm club in their playoff run, it's difficult to imagine him being a Sound Tiger again.

The Bad: The minus-17 is not shocking on this team, but it's worth watching since the defensive side is not a strength of Comeau's game. Gordon did give him 1:19 TOI per game on the penalty kill, though; a guy with his speed and offensive intelligence should be able to become a complete two-way player. A broken wrist ended his NHL season early, with three games left; but he turned that into a positive by earning "guts points" by hurrying back to help Bridgeport.

The Poem:

A rookie season filled with hope
But sophomore camp brought Gordon's "nope"
With Nolan gone
Blake carried on
Back to the Isle for a finish quite dope

The Grade: As with the other report cards, the goal here is to rate Comeau's season relative to your expectations coming into the year. In Comeau's case, this could get interesting, since most of us figured he'd pick up where he left off in 2007-08 -- not open the season with a sustained stay in the AHL. Beyond that, I'm curious what people think Comeau will become. He's typically seen as a 2nd-line winger, but he has tools -- and flashes -- that hint at an ability to fit in quite well next to a superb first-line center. Is that in him? Does he see that in himself? Will he be limited by the need for defensive responsibility/improvement?