A day after a public vote that denied public subsidies and put the team’s future in doubt, the New York Islanders returned to business as usual today. GM Garth Snow and restricted free agent Blake Comeau were able to avoid arbitration and agreed on a one-year, $2.5 million contract for the 2011-12 season. Comeau’s arbitration hearing was scheduled for this Thursday, but both sides were able to reach a fair figure before waiting for the final moment.
Comeau picked a great time to have a career year as he posted career high in goals (24), assists (22), points (46), games played (77), and even penalty minutes (43). Across the board, it was easily the most successful season of his young career. On Tuesday, he saw the fruits of his labor.
Dominik from Lighthouse Hockey thinks this is a deal that works for both sides:
“This is probably ideal for both sides (unless Comeau was hoping for a “core” length deal). Comeau is coming off a career year; he has another season to prove it’s repeatable before either side wades into something more lasting. Meanwhile, if he’s pushed for ice time from the young prospect forwards, then both sides will have a better idea of where he fits next year at this time, when he’ll be eligible for restricted free agency again.”
Next, the Islanders will have to decide what they want to do with former 9th overall pick Josh Bailey. After signing his three year entry-level deal and being rushed to the NHL, the organization will have to decide what they want to do with the 21-year-old forward. In 211 NHL games, he’s only mustered 34 goals and 54 assists. Clearly, they’ll want to sign him for less money than the $1,725,000 cap hit he earned over the last three seasons.
Regardless what the team decides to do with Bailey, it was Comeau that was the most important restricted free agent left on Garth Snow’s to-do list this offseason. By re-signing both Kyle Okposo and Michael Grabner in May and Comeau today, he’s insured that most of the Islanders young core of forwards will be back for next season. Since this is only a one-year deal, GM Snow will revisit Comeau while also trying to lock-down franchise forward John Tavares.
Either way, it’s a little bit of good news for an organization that desperately needed some good news today.