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Mike Comrie still in search of his NHL niche
Jim Matheson, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Sunday, January 07, 2007


EDMONTON - Mike Comrie has played for four teams and has been in the NHL for only 347 games. What does that say about him?

It says he has a short shelf life, and he could be on the move again July 1 when he becomes an unrestricted free-agent.

The Senators went hard to get him because they don't have Jason Spezza or Mike Fisher, their best two centres, but Comrie has turned into a "have hands, will travel" kind of player after a promising first year and a half here in Edmonton, when he had 82 points in 123 games as an Oiler.

The knock on Comrie is this: he doesn't skate as fast as a lot of small men in today's game, he's not very physical, and he doesn't have the playmaking skills of, say, a Marc Savard. He's clever enough to pick up points, though, with a real nose for loose pucks around the net and crafty on the power play.

"I think Mike's in more demand than you realize," said his agent Rich Winter. "The two full years he played he had 30 goals. Statisically, he's better than a lot of guys."

True enough, but to really succeed he'll have to play more of a give-and-go game. Comrie likes to handle the puck, a lot. He left here for the Flyers not because he wanted more money but because he wanted to get out of the blast-furnace of being the local hero, son of the founder of the Brick. It was understandable -- not everybody likes playing at home.

Phoenix GM Mike Barnett was lucky to get a warm body, Alexei Kaigorodov, even if the Russian youngster didn't win any points by taking his skates back to Russia when Ottawa wanted to send him to the minors.

"It's tough to trade a $3-million player in today's CBA. It's tough when 26 of the 30 teams are at $40 million or more (salary cap figure)," said Barnett.

"I think Mike should do well in Ottawa. They've got some great offensive talent there. He could get 40 or 50 points in the second half. He should be in their top six forwards because Fisher plays well as a defensive centre," said Barnett.

But he's still at the crossroads of his career.

"As an opposing coach, you can see that Mike is dangerous," said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish. "A lot of times we're harder on our own players and we're picking apart their weaknesses and you have to guard against that. When you coach against him, you notice some of the breakdowns, but not as many as when he's on your team."
 
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