Americans' Comrie gets ready for NHL draft

Tri-City HeraldJune 9, 2013 

Eric Comrie was in Chicago on Saturday night when the Blackhawks beat the L.A. Kings in double overtime to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

But instead of joining in the festivities, Comrie was snuggled deep in the covers, knowing that a 6 a.m. wake-up call Sunday was just hours away.

Comrie, the Tri-City Americans starting goaltender, spent three days in Chicago for the Blackhawks’ individual team combine.

He was one of about 40 prospects being put through the motions ahead of the June 30 NHL draft in Newark, N.J.

“I skated today and I felt really good,” Comrie said Saturday afternoon. “I felt strong and fast. Coming back (from surgery) is a process. I think by Thursday I should be back to my normal self.”

Thursday would be the first day of the eighth annual Program of Excellence goaltending camp in Calgary.

Comrie is the top-rated Western Hockey League goaltender for the upcoming NHL draft.

The 6-foot, 170-pound Comrie was in the midst of his first season as a starter for the Americans when he started to have pain in his hips.

The pain started in November and continued to get worse.

The injury kept Comrie from displaying his skills at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in January.

Comrie was 20-14-1-2 in 37 starts last season, with a 2.62 goals-against average, a .915 save percentage, and two shutouts before he was shelved for the season Jan. 18.

He had minor surgery on his left hip Feb. 5 in Vail, Colo., then had the right side done six days later.

He has been through months of rehabilitation, and even though he wasn’t able to participate in the testing at the NHL combine last month, he’s nearly back to full strength.

“At the NHL combine two weeks ago, I didn’t do any of the testing,” Comrie said. “If you have an injury, they won’t clear you for testing. I went through the physical — height, weight and body fat — and I got third in hand-eye coordination. I also had interviews with a lot of the teams.”

The Chicago camp is the third one Comrie has attended.

He also spent time in Toronto and Montreal.

“It’s fun to get back on the ice,” Comrie said. “I’m a little rusty. All of the teams ask about my hips and why the surgery. I told them there was a little piece of bone on my femur (cam impingement) and they shaved it down. It will make me more flexible and stronger in the future.”

At the time of his surgery, Comrie was the No. 2-ranked draft-eligible goaltender in North America in Central Scouting’s midseason rankings — tops in the WHL.

Some scouting reports have made note of the surgery, even indicating that it may cause his stock to drop to the second round, but Comrie is not worried.

“It’s always a concern for teams,” Comrie said of his surgery. “I showed myself in the first half (last season). It just takes one team to like me. I’m excited to go to the draft. In the end, you have to work hard everyday to make it to the NHL.”

As difficult as the rehab process has been, and how crazy the weeks are before the NHL draft, there is one thing Comrie is looking forward to doing.

“I’m excited to play in a game,” he said. “I can’t wait to get back on the ice in Tri-City in front of the fans. The atmosphere there is indescribable.”

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