After failing to make the postseason for the fourth straight season, the Anaheim Ducks are officially in offseason mode. With the 2021-22 season in the rearview mirror, we can look back at some of the individual seasons that Ducks’ players had and how they fit moving forward.
Max Comtois was one of the few bright spots on an underwhelming 2020-21 Ducks team. In the 56-game shortened season, he led the Ducks with 16 goals and 33 points. But while many facets of the team improved in the 2021-22 season, Comtois took a step backwards, finishing the season with six goals and 10 assists. An early-season hand surgery forced him out of the lineup until late December, and he would miss additional time due to COVID as well as being a frequent healthy scratch down the stretch.
Comtois’ Hand Injury Snowballs Into a Lost Season
After only one assist in his first 13 games of the season, it was announced that Comtois would have surgery to repair a broken bone in his hand. Following his first game after the six-week recovery, Comtois was placed in the NHL’s COVID protocol. By the time he was finally healthy, his spot on the roster was in flux. A poor performance in one game would prompt head coach Dallas Eakins to leave Comtois out of the lineup as a healthy scratch in the next game. As a result, Comtois’ nightmarish season was limited to only 52 games.
Comtois acknowledges it was difficult getting his feet under him with his inconsistent availability. “It took me awhile to get started, I was in my head for a while. I didn’t really have fun,” Comtois told Elliott Teaford (from ‘Ducks’ Max Comtois Ready for ‘Embarrassing Season’ to End,’ Orange County Register, April 27, 2022). In the past, Comtois has been at his most effective as a net-front presence. Whether it was a result of his hand injury, lack of ice time, or some other unknown factor, he wasn’t in his usual high-danger areas. As a result, his shooting percentage on the season plummeted to 8.3%, far below his 17% from just a season ago.
An Upcoming Contract Year for Comtois
Prior to the 2021-22 season, Comtois signed a two-year extension at $4.075 million. At the time, it was a more-than-reasonable bet on himself. At only 22-years old and coming off a career year, his continued development was headed towards a big payday. Now one year away from becoming a restricted free agent (RFA), Comtois has a lot to prove.
A bounce-back 2022-23 season is certainly in play for Comtois. One encouraging sign is that he ended this season on a three-game goal-scoring streak, and Comtois is looking to carry that momentum into the summer. He’s currently playing for Team Canada in the 2022 IIHF World Championship. In the past, Comtois has been an impact player on the international stage, averaging a point-per-game in his 12 games representing his native Canada. With a little momentum built at the end of the regular season on top of a solid showing at Worlds may be exactly what he needs to mentally prepare for a make-or-break 2022-23 campaign.
Comtois’ Future in Anaheim
As currently constructed, the Ducks are a scoring-deficient team. Even with statistical improvements across the board, they finished with the ninth-fewest goals in the league. With holes in the roster left by offense-minded veterans like Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell, a rebound season from Comtois would be a welcome sight for the Ducks.
One thing working in Comtois’ favor is that he and Max Jones are the only true left wings under contract into next season, and the prospect pipeline isn’t nearly as developed on the left side. The Ducks will fill out the roster through free agency, and that includes taking a look at trade deadline acquisitions like Zach Aston-Reese and Dominik Simon. Aston-Reese and Simon are capable of playing all three forward positions, but their ability to play left wing only stiffened competition for Comtois to crack the lineup after the trade deadline. If Comtois can re-establish himself as a legitimate scoring threat, he will likely be among the Ducks’ top-six forward group next season. If his struggles continue into next season, general manager Pat Verbeek will have to assess his options by the trade deadline.
I was born and raised in Mission Viejo, California, and currently live in Visalia, California. Graduated from CSUF in 2016 with a B.A. in Cinema and Television Arts. I’ve been a sports fan for my entire life, rooting for the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Rams and Miami Heat. In my free time, I enjoy playing video games, trying to pour a perfect cup of coffee, and testing out a local craft beer.