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Prospect Update: Max Comtois
By Thomas Harrington
A second round pick from 2017, no prospect over the last two years has risen faster in Anaheim’s system than left winger Max Comtois. This past season, he played in the NHL, the AHL, the QMJHL, and the World Junior Tournament.
Similar to Isac Lundestrom, Comtois got a shot with the Ducks for two reasons: a fantastic training camp and injuries to Anaheim’s roster. Nick Ritchie was also unsigned, leaving another open roster spot for Comtois to grab. He did just that and played in Anaheim’s first game of the season. On his first shift in the NHL, he scored on his first shot. He followed that up with a goal in his second game. Overall, he scored two goals and seven points in 10 NHL games. Unfortunately, Comtois was injured in his 10th game of the season. He missed a few weeks, and when he returned from action he was assigned to San Diego on an injury assignment. As a junior eligible player, Comtois had to either play in the NHL or juniors last season. He had a four-game stint in the AHL, and then was returned to junior hockey. Comtois scored one goal in four games with the Gulls.
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Upon returning to juniors, Comtois started tearing up the league. However, that was interrupted by the World Junior Tournament, where he was the captain for Team Canada. Unfortunately, things didn’t go well for him and Canada. In the quarterfinals against Finland, Comtois had a penalty shot in overtime. He failed to score and Finland won a few minutes later. Comtois had four goals in one game earlier in the tournament but scored one goal and two points in his four other games. He also played injured during the tournament and missed a couple of weeks of action after the tournament was over. Even worse, Comtois was targeted on social media by hockey fans, and they blamed him for Canada’s loss. The only good to come of this situation was how Comtois handled it. He showed maturity beyond his years. Thankfully, that seems to have blown over, and he can focus on hockey going forward.
Once Comtois was healthy and back in the QMJHL, he played what was probably the best hockey of his career. He was scoring multiple goals almost every game, and in seven games in February, he scored 15 goals, including three hat tricks. Overall, he played in just 25 games and scored 31 goals and 48 points. He still finished fifth on his team in goals, and everyone ahead of him played in at least 59 games. In the playoffs, he reached the second round but lost to Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Antoine Morand. He scored 11 goals and 15 points in 16 games.
When Comtois’ junior career ended, he went back to the Gulls and joined them for their Calder Cup Playoff run. He played for them in game one against Bakersfield. Regulation ended in a 2-2 tie, and Comtois had not recorded any points. The first overtime ended, and then the second, and then the third. Just over four minutes into the fourth overtime, Comtois ended the game and gave the Gulls the 1-0 series lead. He finished that series with six points in six games and finished the playoffs with five goals and nine points in 12 games. Despite missing the first round of the playoffs, he finished tied for sixth on the Gulls in points and tied for fourth in goals.
After that stellar season, Comtois easily met my expectations from a year ago. In juniors, I wanted him to score at a better rate than the season before. Well, he went from 85 points in 54 games to 48 points in 25 games. I also wanted him to make Team Canada and be one of their better players. Even with an injury, he was one of Canada’s more dangerous forwards in the tournament. Finally, I wanted him to put up even more points in the playoffs, which he did, bettering his playoff point total by three. Of course, a year ago, I didn’t expect him to make his NHL debut and score on his first shift. So even if he hadn’t met these three expectations, this past season would have been a successful one for him.
This coming season, Comtois will be a full-time pro. He’ll likely split time between Anaheim and San Diego, depending on how he’s playing. When he’s with the Ducks, I’d like to see Comtois continue his strong play. I don’t expect him to score at a rate similar to his first 10 NHL games, but I do expect him to continue to get his chances and be dangerous on the ice. When he’s with the Gulls, I expect him to be one of their top players.
Because Comtois played in 10 NHL games last year, he only has two years left on his entry-level contract. As long as he continues to play well, Anaheim will extend him in two years, potentially on a long-term deal. It could be on a shorter deal, but unless he regresses, he’ll almost assuredly be on a one-way contract.
The next and final prospect update will be on Sam Steel.
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August 31th, 2019