|Adam Comrie, ranked No. 44 by Central Scouting, made a jump from No. 81 in the mid-term rankings released in January.
An NHL team looking to get better might want to take a look at defenseman Adam Comrie
, the No. 44-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. Just look what happened to the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League. They went from the outhouse to the penthouse in a half-season after trading for Comrie.
Comrie is a big, powerful defenseman -- 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds -- with a good shot and good skating ability. He currently plays for the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League. Comrie already has garnered some attention at the 2008 NHL Scouting Combine as a product of Virginia youth hockey, but there's a little more to that story.
Comrie actually is a native of the Ottawa area and moved to Virginia when he was 9 when his father, Ralph, took a telecommunications position.
"I was born in Ottawa and lived in Kanata and Orleans," Comrie told NHL.com. "I started playing with the Ottawa West Golden Knights and in the summer I played with the Cumberland Barons. (Belleville defenseman and draft prospect) Shawn Lalonde
played with me on the Barons. He wore the 'C' and I wore the 'A.'
"It was my dad's decision to move and I went and made new friends that are still friends to this day. We lived in the Arlington, Virginia, area, not too deep into the city. It was a nice part of town and I like spending my summers there."
In Virginia, Comrie played for the Ashburn Extreme and the Reston Raiders. As he improved, he moved up to the Montgomery Blue Devils in the Capitol Beltway Hockey League.
"I played one year with Montgomery when they were independent and played a lot of games against under-18 teams while I was still only 15," Comrie said. "We went to the USA Hockey national tournament and lost in the quarterfinals. After that I got drafted by the Columbus Junior Blue Jackets of the USHL and then got traded to Omaha in December."
According to an online report, Comrie scored six goals, four assists and 28 penalty minutes in 19 games for the Blue Jackets, including a game-winning overtime goal in the Blue Jackets' inaugural game and first franchise win. By December, Comrie was the Blue Jackets' leading scorer and had the most power-play goals and highest shot percentage in the league.
Comrie was traded to the Omaha Lancers in early December, where he accumulated a goal, six assists and 27 penalty minutes in 38 games. He notched one goal and three assists in his first two games with the Lancers, earning him the league's player of the week honors. By the end of the season, the Lancers had moved from a last-place team to division champions and Comrie had posted the highest shot percentage in the league for a defenseman. He finished out the season with a total of seven goals, 10 assists and 55 penalty minutes.
"I got drafted in the 15th round by Columbus, which is pretty late, not sure why," Comrie said. "I worked hard to make the team. My coach was Jack Fritsche."
Fritsche is the uncle of Columbus Blue Jackets
center Dan Fritsche
and AHL left wing Tom Fritsche
"I've had two years now with the Saginaw Spirit where I've gotten great coaching from Todd Watson," Comrie said. "I worked really hard on and off the ice and did everything I could to win. It's been a lot of fun and a good experience. I played a lot of games my first year when I was starting my development. I developed a lot more in my second year and I think I got a lot better as the season went on. I've got two more seasons of eligibility and the possibility of an overage season."
NHL Central Scouting agrees with Comrie's self-assessment.
"He's a big player who has improved a lot this year," said Central Scouting's Chris Edwards. "When he arrived in Saginaw, the first impression was that he was just going to be a really physical defenseman, but as the year went on, he was moving the puck a lot better, playing on the power play and showed that he has puck skill. He has a really good shot -- he has a spunk and feistiness in him."
"I moved up in the rankings from earlier in the year," Comrie said of a jump from 81 in the mid-term rankings released in January. "I worked hard and I really learned the game and stepped up to the plate. I think I showed how I can be physical and smarter with the puck."
While Comrie became an important part of the Spirit's power play, he said a 5-on-3 opportunity was one of his favorite moments this season.
"We only had one all season," Comrie said. "Early in the penalty, they had me stand in front of the net and use my size to screen the goalie. Then we switched and I went back to the point for one-timers."
Like a lot of young, burly defensemen these days, Comrie's role model is Anaheim Ducks
defenseman Chris Pronger
"He's a nasty, gritty, big guy who uses his size to his advantage," Comrie said. "I think my best attributes are my physical sense of the game, my grit, my shot, my work ethic, my determination, passion and heart. I've been captain of two teams."