Two years ago, Max Comtois led the Anaheim Ducks in scoring across the 56-game 2020-21 season. It was his first full season in the NHL and it appeared his career was taking off. His 16 goals were four clear of his closest teammate and his 33 points outscored veterans Rickard Rakell, Ryan Getzlaf, Jakob Silfverberg, and fellow youngster Trevor Zegras.
That offseason, the Ducks rewarded Comtois with a contract just north of $4 million for two seasons. That meant upon expiry, the Ducks would be required to extend Comtois an offer of about $2.5 million this summer.
His 16 points in 52 games and 19 points in 64 games did not warrant that type of offer from Anaheim, and thus, the 24-year-old former 2nd round pick became available on the open market.
Comtois and his agent were patient though. They knew to get his career back on the right track, Max shouldn’t be chasing money, but instead looking for the perfect fit. He was not short of suitors, but ultimately felt Vegas was the one.
It just seemed right from the beginning to come here. I had some other options but to me (the Golden Knights) had the best play style that fit with me. -Max Comtois
Aside from being the reigning Stanley Cup champions and having a clear hole in the starting lineup with the departure of Reilly Smith, the Bruce Cassidy style of play was attractive to Comtois.
It’s a team that plays in a straight line, north-south hockey. Obviously, they have guys with talent but they play the game the right way. They play the game heavy, they play fast, and that’s the kind of game I like and that I’m good at. -Comtois
VGK’s head coach agrees.
He’s a big-bodied guy that gets to the net and scores his goals from the top of the circles down. He had a good junior career and was on a good path and then played some good hockey in Anaheim, so when a player like that is available you get, for lack of a better term, a free look. -Cassidy
Comtois is going to have to prove his worth, and quickly, in Vegas though. Cassidy mentioned both Paul Cotter and Pavel Dorofeyev as players they expect to take the next step this season, and in the initial line rushes to start camp, Cotter skated on the wing of Karlsson while Comtois went with Dorofeyev and Byron Froese.
Sometimes a guy leaves a certain organization and comes to another one and things go well and other times it doesn’t. We like his pedigree. -Cassidy
There is a recent precedent of this from a player Comtois sees a lot of similarities to himself. At the deadline last year, the Golden Knights brought in Ivan Barbashev, stuck him on the wing of Jack Eichel, and his game took off. Comtois knows with his style of play, he could see that happen in Vegas as well.
I’m not a line driver but I know my way to finding soft spots on the ice and finding scoring opportunities, that’s my biggest asset. -Comtois
With back-to-back road games on the schedule to start preseason, Comtois will almost certainly get his first chance to prove himself in a Golden Knights uniform on Sunday or Monday. The opportunity is there for the taking, it’ll be up to him to go out and take it.