Comeau Gonna Go?
There's no secret as to who has possibly been the most disappointing Islander to date. Blake Comeau, who is looking to improve on a personal best 46-point season in 2011, is off to a terrible start with zero points in 11 games played along with a -5 rating.
Comeau has progressed nicely each year that he has been part of the New York Islanders organization. He had a three game stint with the big club back in 2007 before being sent back to the AHL, where he scored 43 points in 61 games with the Sound Tigers. But after that, Comeau would basically solidify himself as a member of the Islanders from then on out.
He put up 15 points in 2008, 25 points in 2009 and then 35 in 2010 before exploding with 24 goals and 22 assists last year. There was no reason to expect anything but another 10-point improvement from #57. But all signs are pointing to this season possibly being his worst.
Comeau had been the subject of many trade rumors this past summer. Throw in the fact that he only managed to earn a one-year contract extension from General Manager Garth Snow and the picture starts to paint itself out; the writing might still be on the wall for the inconsistent forward.
Nino Niederreiter is currently playing with the Sound Tigers on a conditioning stint after missing the first 10 games of the year with a groin injury he suffered in the pre-season. He currently has one goal and one assist for two points in the four games he's dressed and is coming off an impressive year with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. Last year he scored 70 points (41 goals and 29 assists) in 55 games played, a 10-point improvement over 2010 in 10 fewer games.
The Islanders will probably keep Niederreiter in the minors for as long as they can and feel is required in order for him to get back up to speed. They certainly will not rush one of their top prospects, especially after missing some considerable time with an injury. But when El Nino does get the call, who will be the forward that will be forced to sit?
My guess is that it will be Comeau. There just doesn't seem to be any other logical player to scratch. Although guys like Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo are also struggling, Bailey is a center-man and Niederreiter is a winger, so that just won't work. Okposo plays on the wing so he could be a healthy scratch, but KO has at least put up some numbers and has been visible on the ice. On some nights it's almost hard to even notice that Blake Comeau has been playing this year.
Garth Snow holds the cards with the one-year contract that will keep Comeau as an RFA next year. My guess is if Niederreiter shows the potential of working his way up into a top-six forward position, you may be seeing the last handful of games that Comeau will be dressing in as a New York Islander.
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