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Report: Oilers Negotiating With Mike Comrie

It's a strange world.  On Twitter yesterday, a guy named Wanye Gretz reportedly got insider information stating that the Edmonton Oilers have signed Mike Comrie.  None of that would be so bizarre if it could be easily dismissed, but the more I hear the more I think there's substance behind it.

Dan Tencer said yesterday on his Twitter feed:

Oilers have not signed Comrie but I'm led to believe that it's not out of the realm of possibility.  

That comment, coupled with a few items in my inbox, makes me take this seriously.  After the jump: Mike Comrie by the numbers.

The numbers presented here are for the last three seasons; most recent first.  For faceoffs the number in brackets represent total attempts.  ES = even-strength, while PP = powerplay.

  • Size: 5’10", 185lbs
  • QualComp: 8th, 5th, 11th
  • QualTeam: 6th, 8th, 12th,
  • ES PTS/60: 1.44, 1.47, 2.40
  • PP PTS/60: 2.13, 3.56, 4.11
  • ES GFON/60: 2.12, 2.46, 3.18
  • ES GAON/60: 3.33, 3.00, 2.78
  • ES GDON/60: -1.21, -0.54, +0.40
  • Corsi/60: -5.3, -2.3
  • Faceoffs: 41.0% (417), 46.0% (1227), 49.3% (454)
  • Shooting Percentage: 8.3%, 10.8%, 16.0% Total Shots: 121, 194, 125

What We Learn

The real question about Mike Comrie is this: is he the player from 2006-07 and earlier, or the much more limited player from the last two seasons? I looked to find an injury that might have caused a dropoff, and he had a few:

  • December 2006: 14 games, fractured right foot
  • March 2008: 6 games, flu December 2008: 17 games, hip surgery
  • March 2009: 3 games, flu

I’ve included the two bouts with the flu on there because every so often "flu-like symptoms" is code for "concussion". I don’t know that’s the case here; I do know that nine games is a lot to miss for flu. Still, if we discount that possibility there's always the chance that Comrie's foot and hip injuries have reduced his effectiveness.

Comrie's PP numbers look fairly vanilla, but 2008-09 was the only really bad year.  The previous two seasons Comrie spent much of his powerplay time on either a) a miserable team (NYI, PHX) or b) the second unit (OTT).  His 2007-08 numbers actually led all Islanders forwars and if he returns to form he could be a serious asset on the powerplay.

Aside from his powerplay ability, Comrie can also put up points 5-on-5, although he hasn't for the past two years; I tend to think his even-strength results vary greatly depending on the calibre of player he's lined up against.  He needs relatively sheltered minutes, which is part of the reason I'm not keen on this hypothetical signing despite the (reported) bargain price of 1.3MM/yr.

Comrie is one more small, offensively-talented but in need of shelter centre who can't win faceoffs and can't kill penalties.  I have to believe that if this signing goes through one or more of the other players with similar talents (in order of likelihood: Nilsson, Cogliano, O'Sullivan) is headed out of town in a trade.  If that's the case, this could be a killer deal; otherwise it makes very little sense for this team.

One last thing: if these rumours are true, it tells us a) that Kevin Lowe has been effectively isolated from the decision-making process and b) whatever else Comrie might be, he possesses some strength of character.  I know I wouldn't want to return to a city that I'd left on the terms he did if I had any other options.

Robin Brownlee's Take:

I missed Brownlee's public comments on this possibility in the craziness that is the OilersNation comments board, and I'll quote them here:

As much as I’d like to tell you this Comrie item is the result of yet another Wanye Gretz bender involving alcohol and prescription drugs, I can say with certainty it’s not — at least not as far as interest in Comrie by the Oilers goes.

Shortly before I wrote the Mike Comrie: Do Over? item Aug 19, I heard talk from people who would know that the Oilers were entertaining the possibility of offering Comrie a contract. I’d spent a couple of days tying to lock this down without much luck when Wanye’s sleuthing hit the website today.

I still haven’t asked Mike about this, but I did talk to agent Ritch Winter today. He declined comment, so I don’t know what the level of interest is from Comrie’s side of things, given that I’m led to believe a handful of teams are looking at him.

While I stand by my original post that a return by Comrie makes little sense, given the make-up of the roster and the Oilers salary cap issues, I can say without much doubt owner Daryl Katz doesn’t much care about any misgivings I might have. This has legs.

Brownlee's original Comrie item can be read here.