Coach Bruce Cassidy chose to sit most of last season’s veterans during Tuesday’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks. This game was important for Paul Cotter, Pavel Dorofeyev, Max Comtois, and Brendan Brisson. Those players are vying for Reilly Smith’s former spot on the third line with William Karlsson and Michael Amadio.
Tuesday’s game was a snoozer. The Sharks defeated the Golden Knights 2-0 in a game that featured very little action. The pregame storyline was about which player would leave an impression on the coaching staff to fill Smith’s former spot.
The answer after Tuesday’s game; no one.
“Pav didn’t, not good enough from him. Needs to be better.” Cassidy on players competing for a spot in the lineup. “Paul Cotter, I thought the effort was there. He got going a little bit, he tried to be physical. Tried to impact the game.”
Cotter seems to have distanced himself from the competition to replace Smith when the banner gets raised. Dorofeyev, Brisson, and Comtois were not impactful on Tuesday’s game.
Thursday’s game vs. the Colorado Avalanche and Saturday’s game vs. the Los Angeles Kings will serve as dress rehearsals for the Golden Knights. Expect whoever lines up with William Karlsson to get first crack on his line when the regular season starts.
Where does this leave Comtois?
“Max is going to have to outplay guys, he doesn’t have a contract. He’s not taking Barbashev’s spot up there. Howden can move around. If he (Comtois) jumps off the page could he play with Stephenson and Stone if he’s able to finish?” Cassidy when asked where Comtois could potentially fit in.
The issue is that Comtois has not jumped off the page during preseason games. To be fair, Comtois has spent most of the preseason games on lower lines with players expected to play in Henderson this season. Comtois could be more noticeable on a line with Jack Eichel or Chandler Stephenson. Maybe Cassidy will explore those options during the final two preseason games.
Regardless of what line he is on, Comtois will have to be extremely impactful during the final preseason games to have a chance to make the opening night roster.