I hate yard sales. Driving around at the behest of your better half on an otherwise perfectly beautiful weekend browsing through seldom used off items that other people found in a dusty corner of their basement and decided that they don't want or can't use anymore. That said, every now and then you can stumble across a real bargain. The same might be said for these three NHL players who were unceremoniously cast off from their former teams this past summer.
To most outside of Canada and six or seven "ice hockey" fans in the United States, Mike Comrie is better known as Hilary Duff's husband. The nine year veteran is set to play for his sixth NHL team (he played for two of those five teams twice). Comrie must have a lucky rabbit's foot hidden in somewhere in his hockey gear because in all likelihood he's about to rejuvenate his career by landing on a line with Pens superstar Evgeny Malkin.
The 30-year-old Comrie has hit the 60 point threshold twice in his career and recorded some decent point-per-game ratio's. Buyer beware though, he has played 70 or more games in only three of his nine seasons.
Two things working in Comrie's favour here are the Penguins lack of scoring talent/depth and the fact that Malkin is coming off his worst season as an NHL player. Look for the former Art Ross trophy winner (Malkin, not Comrie!) to redeem himself and hit triple digits in points for the third time in four seasons with Comrie riding shotgun. It might be worth jumping on the Comrie bandwagon with a late pick and enjoy the 55-60 points.
Hopefully Patty O'Sullivan brought a little luck of the Irish with him to Carolina. He is about to suit up for his third team in what will be his fifth NHL season. O'Sullivan's point totals have been trending downward since 2007-08 when he recorded 53 points.
Following that career year, O'Sullivan missed nearly all of training camp awaiting a new contract. He eventually signed a three year deal with the Kings before the start of the season, but the acrimony from those negotiations ultimately set in motion a trade to the Oilers at the deadline later that season.
In his 92 games in an Edmonton uniform, O'Sullivan recorded 40 points and his plus/minus was a couple of degrees colder than a February night in the (former) City of Champions at a combined minus-42. That lack of a complete game is what could derail him in Carolina.
In his last year of major junior hockey, O'Sullivan recorded 31 goals and 90 points in only 57 games. In his first professional season, the then 20-year-old scored an incredible 47 goals and 93 points, copping AHL Rookie of the Year honours.
O'Sullivan signed a one-year, two-way contract (motivation) with Carolina and he certainly has the talent to stick in the top six. For now, Coach Maurice seems willing to give him a shot on the first line with Eric Staal and Erik Cole as well as the top power play unit. He'll need to produce quickly and minimize his defensive shortcomings as the team has other options should O'Sullivan disappoint.
Carolina has been a popular destination for successful reclamation projects; Sergei Samsonov, Joe Corvo and Jussi Jokinen are recent Hurricane examples. Is O'Sullivan destined to add his name to that list next? We'll find out soon enough.
Of the trio, I'm the least confident in mentioning the name Chris Higgins, but Florida seems intent on giving him a shot in the top six. After signing Higgins to a one-year contract, GM Dale Tallon said Higgins will be a top-six forward slotting in behind David Booth on the left side. Higgins has surpassed 20 goals in three of his five full NHL seasons.
Higgins burst onto the NHL scene in Montreal where he scored 38 points in his rookie season. His sophomore year was even more promising as he recorded 38 points in only 61 games, then followed that up with a 52 point effort in 2007-08. Unfortunately, it's been downhill ever since. Higgins posted 23 points in his final year as a Hab and he never really found his groove last season with the Rangers and Flames scoring a combined 17 points.
Despite what the General Manager said in early July, Higgins is not a sure thing to play in the Panthers top six. There is real potential for fellow newcomers Michael Grabner and to a lesser extent Steve Bernier to surpass Higgins if he struggles or one of the others simply plays better. That said, I see Higgins being given every opportunity to make good and record another 20 goal season.
In closing, I'd like to note that with yesterday's announcement of Brian Gionta as the latest Canadiens Team Captain, he becomes the second shortest Captain in NHL history.