Numbers Game: Senators Get Campoli and Comrie

Scott Cullen
2/20/2009 6:10:42 PM
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Seemingly unconcerned about a 13-point deficit in the Eastern Conference playoff race, the Ottawa Senators sacrificed a first-round pick to the Islanders, who have no such illusions about hopes for this season.

Numbers Game examines the Senators-Islanders swap.

The Senators Get: C Mike Comrie and D Chris Campoli.

Campoli is a 24-year-old puck-moving defenceman who is still looking to recapture the form he showed as a rookie in 2005-2006, when he scored 34 points.  He ranks second among Islanders defencemen with 17 points at the time of this trade, but is also carrying a minus-20 rating, the second-lowest mark on a team full of minuses.

Of course, Campoli will be expected to address Ottawa's season-long need for an offensive defenceman and he'll likely see improvement in his numbers by moving to Ottawa, where there is definitely a stronger supporting cast.  Should the Senators move Filip Kuba before the deadline, that would create an better opportunity for Campoli to produce on the power play.

What makes Campoli extra attractive to the Senators, aside from untapped potential, is that he's a bargain through next season, when he earns just $675,000 (counting $650,000 against the cap) before becoming eligible for restricted free agency in 2010.

Taking on Comrie, and his $4-million salary, is fiscal punishment for the Senators.

Comrie, 28, is in the midst of his worst pro campaign, but it's not altogether surprising since he's coming off hip surgery and has been playing for the last-place Islanders.

When he's on his game, Comrie is a good second-line centre, skilled enough to score 20 or more goals in five of his eight NHL seasons. 

On the other hand, Comrie has never topped more than 60 points in a season -- and he had 25 points in 41 games in his last go-round with the Senators in 2006-2007 -- so there is a limit to his offensive upside.

While Comrie could ostensibly help the Senators' secondary scoring in the final quarter of the season, he's hardly the reason for making this move.

The Islanders Get: LW Dean McAmmond and a first-round draft pick.

McAmmond, 35, has enjoyed a long NHL career, but with seven points in 44 games this season, he's getting close to the end.  At the same time, he's a good skater and should fit in just fine with the Islanders for the next couple of months; that is, if he doesn't end up getting flipped again before the deadline.

Beyond the financial savings of dealing Comrie, the Islanders add a first-round pick that the Senators picked up from Tampa Bay as part of the Andrej Meszaros trade.  However, the pick was originally San Jose's, so it won't be a lottery pick, but rather one likely in the 26-30 range. 

While a late first-round pick is hardly a guaranteed NHLer (see this week's Backchecking for more), this move does give the Islanders five picks in the first two rounds, which is a good haul in a deep draft for an Islanders franchise that has a lot of work to do on their current rebuilding plan.

With Comrie gone and Doug Weight injured, the Isles can look to young centres Josh Bailey and Frans Nielsen to play more of an offensive role down the stretch.  On the blueline, rookie Jack Hillen may be the one to get more power play time now that Campoli has departed.

Given the position the Islanders are in, this move obviously doesn't make the team better now, but is a good step in the rebuilding plan. 

In Ottawa's case, they essentially deem Campoli to be worth more than a late first-round pick, which doesn't seem unreasonable, even if it's difficult to stomach a non-playoff team dealing away a draft pick.

Scott Cullen can be reached at

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