Less than three weeks after acquiring him via trade, the Detroit Red Wings lost goalie Eric Comrie to the Winnipeg Jets via waivers.
TRANSACTION: The Winnipeg Jets have claimed G – Eric Comrie off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings. #NHLJets
— Winnipeg Jets PR (@WpgJetsPR) December 19, 2019
The Jets are the team that originally drafted Comrie before losing him to the Arizona Coyotes via waivers to start the season.
As I Tweeted yesterday, this move feels wrong to me. If waiving Comrie was about clearing a roster spot for Jimmy Howard to return from injury, that could have just as easily been accomplished by sending Christoffer Ehn to Grand Rapids.
The argument against that seems to be that this team needs more than one spare at forward or defense due to injury and illness. I’d counter that the Wings will also need insurance in goal with Howard coming back from injury.
Mostly, though, it seems like waste of resources. Yes, Vili Saarijarvi, who was traded for Comrie, probably had no future with the Red Wings. He was still an asset, though, who could have been traded for someone who did have a future. The two starts and one relief appearance made by Comrie could have been taken care of by Calvin Pickard and cost Detroit nothing.
Finally, there’s this:
My feeling is that if Ken Holland had traded for a goalie, started him twice, and then lost him on waivers, he’d get lit up for it.
— DetroitHockey.Net (@detroithockey96) December 19, 2019
Update, 12/20/2019: I’ve gotten some replies to the above Tweet scoffing at the idea of judging Steve Yzerman for such a low-risk move and want to address that further.
As I noted above, Vili Saarijarvi probably had no future in Detroit. I don’t like how that came to be, I liked Saarijarvi back when he was with the Flint Firebirds, but there were simply too many prospects who had passed him on the Detroit depth chart so his lack of future was undeniable. As such, trading him for something makes sense.
My problem with how this all went down is three-fold.
First off, why trade for a goalie at all if Howard’s injury was only going to keep him out for three weeks? That’s what Calvin Pickard is for. I’m sure the argument could be made that, with Filip Larsson struggling, the Griffins needed Pickard, but that’s the nature of being a farm team.
Secondly, Max Bultman of The Athletic notes today that Jeff Blashill had issues with Comrie’s rebound control.
“That’s an area that I know that he’s got to get better at, and I thought he struggled a little bit in Winnipeg that way, too,” Blashill said.
If rebound control is such an issue for Comrie – an issue bad enough that the Red Wings felt comfortable losing him on waivers – why didn’t their pro scouts note that before the trade? If this is a dealbreaker now, why wasn’t it three weeks ago?
Finally, two games is just an absurdly small sample size to judge Comrie on. A player who is in his third organization of the season, joining a team that’s the worst in the league with a god-awful goal differential, has two bad starts? Yeah, I can see how that would happen.
But maybe it was some kind of 3D chess for Steve Yzerman to turn a low-value defenseman into a goalie rental for three weeks. Maybe it was, in fact, necessary to rent a goalie for three weeks. I just don’t see it.