Edmonton vs Florida, Friday, September 18. Mike Comrie, the player that you'd never believe would be an Oiler again, gathers four assists, participates in a fight, and leaves the ice to a standing ovation, and the chants of, "Comrie, Comrie..." Weird.
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Don't get me wrong, I am happy Mike is back in Edmonton, and even happier that he looks to be playing the best hockey of his career. It's all just a little hard to believe. Not so long ago, I blogged about how the very suggestion that Comrie would put on the copper and blue again was ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as him leading the team in pre-season scoring. Or almost as ridiculous as the crowd going bonkers for him. The NHL is indeed a strange place where anything can happen.
Speaking of ridiculous, how about the trade between Toronto and Boston? I like Phil Kessel; 22 year-olds who score 36 in a season are hard to come by. But two first rounders and a second? From a team as bad as Toronto is going to be this year? Brian Burke has lost the plot.
Kessel, when he returns from injury in November, will be the offensive leader on the Leafs, and for that reason, they are a better team thanks to the trade. The contract he signed was approximately what I projected it to be: $27mil for five years, or $5.4mil per season. A decent contract for both Kessel and the Leafs. But here's the problem...
Kessel is injury-prone, and the Leafs will finish approximately 20th to 25th this season. Meaning, the Leafs will be giving up a pick between 5th and 10th at the 2010 Entry Draft, plus two more high picks. It's hard to believe the Leafs will be much better in 2011. I'm not trying to put them down; rebuilding takes time. Burke did a fine job in the off-season adding defenseman, although it's a little hard to understand why he added so many. When Kessel is healthy enough to play this season, he will be coming in without a training camp, and we all know how players do when that happens...Mats Sundin last season is a great example, but there are many.
Maybe Brian Burke knows something the rest of us don't about the 2010 draft? Maybe he feels he isn't losing a potential player the quality of Kessel or better by moving the pick, plus the other two? Who knows. I'm sure Leafs PR people will spin this into the Trade of the Century.
It's no wonder to me now why the Oilers weren't able to land Kessel. The Oilers will clearly be a better team than TO this year, and there is no way Steve Tambellini would give up three draft picks that will be less significant than those Toronto gave. Bruins management must be partying like it's 1999 right now. If this was the trade of the century, it's Boston that won it.
Back to the Oilers - Patrick O'Sullivan played another strong game Friday. Taylor Chorney, who also looked great, scored, along with JF Jacques, and Shawn Horcoff. Jacques, who was second star in the game, picked a good time to play well. A roster spot is clearly up for grabs, and Jacques has the size the Oilers would like to add. The Bulin Wall was third star, earning the shutout, and no doubt, helping the Oilers jersey store sell some merchandise. Another player giving the Oilers something to think about is Ryan Stone, who had two assists and solidly contributed.
Edmonton's next game is tonight against the Vancouver Canucks. At this time, the Oilers game day roster has not been posted on edmontonoilers.com, but it's fair to assume the battle will continue for a spot on the team. I suspect another round of cuts will come on Sunday or Monday, when the coaches and management will review the 48 players currently on the roster. Look for the Oilers to be down to 40 by the time their next game rolls around.
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