UFA Decisions: Mike Comrie

Edmonton Oilers v Toronto Maple Leafs 

UFA Decisions considers the unrestricted free agents on the Oilers’ roster, starting with the most expensive and working down. Today we consider Mike Comrie.

We’re all familiar with the Comrie saga: how he was drafted by the team, made the jump halfway through the 2000-01 season, signed a fair-sized contract and was promptly relied on to be the Oilers’ first line centre (with Doug Weight sent away for Jochen Hecht, Marty Reasoner, and Jan Horacek). Comrie provided some good offensive seasons in the role, but then wanted to leave town in the summer of 2003.

After a lengthy holdout, the Oilers arranged a trade with the Anaheim Ducks which would see Comrie go to Anaheim in exchange for Corey Perry and a first round draft pick. Unfortunately, Kevin Lowe felt that the trade didn’t reflect “fair market value” and reportedly asked Comrie to write a cheque to the Oilers for $2.5 MM. When Comrie declined, the trade fell through, and the Oilers instead sent him to Philadelphia for Jeff Woywitka, a first round pick and a third round pick.

The relationship between Comrie, a native son, and the Oilers organization was bitter at this point and fans almost unanimously sided with the organization. Comrie quickly became one of the most despised players in the league for Oilers fans (and all sorts of baseless rumours made the rounds), and though subsequent incidents (Nylander, Pronger) knocked him down the list he remained unpopular.

After the holdout, Comrie’s career stalled; he was flipped to Phoenix (where he had a fine season in 2005-06) then to Ottawa, then to the Islanders, then back to Ottawa again. Injuries intervened. Comrie was still mostly regarded as a top-nine forward (at wing, rather than centre) but the lustre had disappeared.

Comrie went unsigned for a good length of time this past summer, rumours started floating that he might be coming back to Edmonton. They didn’t make sense on the surface, but at the end of August our very own Baron Wanye Von Gretz IV pulled himself away from watching the Cornell Big Red performing ‘Bye Bye Bye’ long enough to report that Comrie had been signed to a one-year deal by Daryl Katz.

It wasn’t a bad move for the Oilers, but it was a great move for Comrie. Once ostracized, Comrie had won fans back over before the end of training camp with a fantastic preseason performance (including a fight) and we all wondered how well he might perform for the Oilers. Illness would de-rail his season, though he still scored 13 goals over just 43 games. Perhaps more importantly, his reputation within the city was largely repaired.

What I’d Do As G.M.

I liked the Comrie signing last September, simply because I felt the Oilers were short of actual NHL players and he signed on the cheap. That said, with incoming forwards like Jordan Eberle, Linus Omark and possibly Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson fighting for time, it doesn’t make sense to re-sign Comrie; they’ll all be competing for the same kind of job (scoring forward with defensive deficiencies). I think Comrie will latch on somewhere else, but I don’t think I’d be interested in him if I were the Oilers’ G.M.

What I Expect To Happen

Comments that Pat Quinn made about Comrie over the course of the season may have indicated some strain in their relationship, and I wonder if that will be a factor in the forward returning. If the Oilers buy out players like Nilsson and O’Sullivan, and if they’re determined to force Eberle and Omark to fight for a roster spot, there’s a possibility they re-sign Comrie. I’d be surprised if they do; I expect Steve Tambellini to let the veteran forward walk.

  • Jason Gregor

    I personally think that we should sign Comrie for another year, IF he signs for a similar number.

    What’s the use of rushing our kids into the lineup when they are not ready (IMO I think Gagne could have used 1 more year of Junior, and then some AHL seasoning)?

    Any thoughts?

    Please no more Star Trek references.

  • I’d consider signing Comrie for a year (or even 2) for anything under 2 mil. That applies for Calgary, too.

    In theory, I’d say MPS & Seguin should be on the roster this fall, Eberle & Omark in OKC. If Eberle looks ready after 30-40 games in the ‘A’, then bring him up.

  • Heavyd

    Resign for another year – same deal as last. Last year’s mono warrants a do-over. When he was playing, he scored.

    Resigning Comrie makes more sense than resigning Pisani.

  • SkinnyD

    Wait a minute! I remember Perry for Comrie, but forgot about the 1st round pick. Plus Lowe wanted that signing bonus back, which would have been a first in NHL history. Lowe’s explanations during this time (it was discussed all the time on Total Sports) sounded illogical and vengeful. Was the EIG that broke or was this all Lowe?

    Rich Winter’s interview with Stauffer made Lowe out to be petty. The deal with Anaheim was done except for the ink when Lowe came up with this signing bonus refund demand.

    Was that 1st round pick in 2005? If so, that was #2 which turned out to be Bobby Ryan. I know, I know, the Oilers would have picked some gem ranked #93 by the scouting services.

    Anyway this decision is near the top of the now President of Hockey Ops blunders.

  • My prediction is that Eberle will be in the line up next year and Comrie will not resign because he is getting married to Hillary Duff and she won’t live here.. We still need to fire Kevin Lowe because he smells!!!