Max Comtois joins three other likely competitors for one spot in Golden Knights’ lineup

LAS VEGAS — After a quiet offseason, the Golden Knights made an addition to the roster this week, signing former Ducks winger Max Comtois to a professional contract offer (PTO).

Comtois will join the team when camp opens this month to vie for a spot in the lineup. There aren’t many openings in Vegas’ depth chart. Of the 19 who played in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, 18 are returning. The only exception is Reilly Smith, who was dealt to Pittsburgh in a cap-shedding move this summer.

There should be plenty of competition for the spot Smith vacated, and Comtois only adds to the list of contenders. The 2017 second-round pick by Anaheim is still only 24 years old, and will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2022-23 season.

Comtois broke out in 2020-21 with 16 goals and 17 assists in his first full season of NHL action. He showed glimpses of the offensive upside the Ducks were hoping for when they selected the high-scoring winger out of the QMJHL. However, in the two seasons since Comtois failed to hit double-digit goals, and Anaheim ultimately decided not to extend a qualifying offer this summer.

The fact that this deal is a PTO and not an actual contract shows there was limited to no interest in Comtois from around the league, which is a bit of a surprise considering his age and production. There’s no doubt he hasn’t lived up to expectations over the last two years but he did manage nine goals and 10 assists in 2022-23, and ranked fifth on the team in goals above replacement according to Evolving-Hockey.

Bringing Comtois into camp is a low-risk move for the Golden Knights, with the potential to add another NHL-caliber winger to the lineup if he’s a fit. Where coach Bruce Cassidy will slot him in is still to be determined, but he is a left-handed shot like Smith and has experience playing with offensively-minded players. If Cassidy opts to leave his lines how they were to end the playoffs, here’s how Vegas’ early projected depth chart looks:

Comtois joins Paul Cotter, Brendan Brisson and Pavel Dorofeyev as the most likely competitors for the opening at left wing. Cotter and Dorofeyev are both coming off strong rookie seasons in which they demonstrated readiness to play at the NHL level. Brisson has yet to make his NHL debut, but the 2020 first-round pick has scored at every level, including 18 goals in 58 games last year in his rookie season in the AHL.

There’s an argument for all four to potentially win the job, and it will likely come down to who shines brightest in camp and the preseason. Here’s a case for each:

Comtois: Despite still being only 24, Comtois is the oldest and most experienced of this group. Playing on William Karlsson’s wing means demanding matchups on a nightly basis, and Cassidy could end up feeling more comfortable with a sixth-year NHL veteran in that spot opposed to the younger in-house options. The Golden Knights have seen Comtois’ offensive ability up close, with six of his 38 career goals coming against Vegas.

Cotter: While Comtois’ breakout 16-goal season happened two years ago (which may as well be forever in pro hockey terms), Cotter is fresh off a 13-goal rookie season. Combined with his ability to finish at a reasonable rate, Cotter brings speed, energy and physicality to a line, which is a very different style of play than the others.

Dorofeyev: The Russian winger scored seven goals last season in only 18 games, which is an 82-game pace of more than 30 goals. That’s obviously not a likely outcome, but the 20-goal mark feels reasonable with the right opportunity. Dorofeyev proved he can get to the front of the net, and looked more comfortable with the puck on his stick with each passing game. If Cassidy is looking for a shooter to play on a line with two pass-first players (Karlsson and Michael Amadio), Dorofeyev averages considerably more shots and attempts per 60 minutes than the others.

2022-23 shooting statistics

Player Shot attempts/60 Shots/60

Pavel Dorofeyev



Paul Cotter



Max Comtois



Brisson: The best outcome for Vegas’ future would be Brisson tearing through camp and the preseason and forcing his way into the lineup. The 21-year-old has a knack for finding soft spots in the defense, and a wicked one-timer to cash in when he does. Asking a rookie to play on a line with Karlsson may be too much, but Brisson certainly has the offensive upside to fill Smith’s absence if things fall his way. Smith was a focal point of the power play last year, and with a left-handed shot Brisson would fit nicely in the right circle.

We’ll know more when we hear Cassidy’s thoughts on what Comtois could bring, but for now it seems like he has a legitimate shot at finding a spot in the Golden Knights’ lineup. If that happens, this signing is obviously a steal. Perhaps he simply provides the competitive push for one of Vegas’ young emerging forwards to level up their game.

Either way, this seems like a shrewd move by the Golden Knights, with no risk if it doesn’t work out.

(Top photo of Max Comtois: Matt Kartozian / USA Today)

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