By Dan Charlton (@Dan_Charlton48)
Originally touted as a mid-first round pick, a confusing season without Pascal Laberge left Maxime Comtois and his draft stock falling into the second round. A teammate and linemate of recent Flyers draftee, Laberge, Comtois plays on his wing. If Comtois were to fall, the Flyers could be in a golden opportunity to capitalize on this draft, as combining his talent with whomever gets selected with the second overall pick could prove to be a gold mine in a “weak” draft.
In 2015-16, with the Victoriaville Tigers of the QMJHL, Laberge and Comtois both had impressive seasons. Comtois scored 60 points (26 goals, 34 assists), some very respectable numbers for a rookie season. The Quebec native was expected to continue to build on his draft stock this past season, but a loss of one of his primary linemates in Laberge due to concussion issues, led to his struggles to produce. In a draft year, players usually try to post some of their most eye-opening point totals sort of as a “pick me!” to NHL clubs. So when a player’s offensive output decreases in their draft year, doubts quickly begin to arise. Comtois was no exception. In 2016-17, his point totals decreased by nine points to 51 total with 22 goals and 29 assists, which led to the fall from late first-round pick to an early second rounder.
At 13th overall, Comtois seemed like a perfect fit for the Flyers, similar to the German Rubtsov situation last season when he fell due to the PED scandal that plagued his Russian national team. While Comtois’ fall is not as severe and nowhere near as drastic a reason as Rubtsov’s, it still is shocking to see how opinions turned on a former surefire top-ten pick. He projects to be a scoring left winger if he can reach his potential.
With the sudden drop to the second round, Comtois could turn into one of the steals of this draft. I’m sure there will be some due to its standing of being a “weaker draft” than the last two. The Flyers have the 44th pick (13th in the second round) in the draft. I don’t believe that Comtois would fall that far, so if the Flyers were to target him, they would have to take their chances and wait, or, more likely, would have to trade up in the second round to snag him early. The Flyers have an abundance of draft picks to use to trade up, or they could look at the pick as part of a deal to move a player if they so choose.
The forward prospect pool, although about to get a huge boost from the second overall selection, is the weakest aspect of the Flyers farm system. Adding one of Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick along with a winger like Comtois could make that forward group look a lot more menacing. If the option is there to make an attempt to grab him, the Flyers should definitely be looking into it. In fact, they most likely know a lot about Comtois from watching Laberge this year. He may not be on the Flyers radar this year, but again if the option is there to draft him, it would be a foolish mistake to pass on a player of Comtois caliber in the second round.
Picture credit: NHL.com