Looks like the Finn…
wasn’t quite finished.
Leo Komarov has returned to the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs on a four-year contract worth $2.95 million per season.
As a Leo Komarov fan myself, I’m tickled pink by Leo’s return. His lockout-shortened “rookie” campaign featured just nine points in 42 games, but he wasn’t exactly used in an offensive role. He started 37.6% of his shifts in the defensive zone, good for fifth-highest on the Leafs and fourth among Leafs forwards behind Jay McClement, Mikhail Grabovski, and Nikolai Kulemin, none of whom are Leafs anymore.
It would seem Leo Komarov did what was asked of him: Hit everybody you see. Komarov was fifth in the NHL in hits. The noteworthy part for this with me, and you could tell when you watched him, was how he hit. He finished the season with just nine minor penalties. Not bad for a guy with 176 hits. Komarov was also a little pesky jerk that would drive opponents nuts by messing with them while not actually engaging them. People forget that the famous Grabovski-Pacioretty biting incident started with Brandon Prust finally having enough of Komarov’s shenanigans.
And how many penalty minutes did Komarov get on this play? None because he’s hilarious. GAHD I love that lil’ Estonian jerk. Or Finnish jerk, I don’t know. He’s got dual jerk citizenship.
Feedback from some fans has been pretty negative, and it’s understandable. After all, Komarov was mostly used as a fourth-liner in 2012-13. But you don’t just hand $11.8 million to a fourth-liner.
Hearing TOR GM Dave Nonis went overseas in the last two days for a face-to-face meeting with Leo Komarov
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 1, 2014
How do you think this conversation went exactly?
Nonis: Hello, Leo.
Nonis: We’d like you to play for the Leafs again, Leo.
Nonis: I’ve travelled half the world to ask you to be a plug for our team.
Nonis: Now I know you can make a ton of money in Russia and play on the first line on a good team, but how about you come back and play eight minutes a game with us.
Komarov: Da. Spasiba, komrade.
That’s probably not how it went.
The Leafs aren’t bringing back Nikolai Kulemin. It sounds like Jay McClement won’t be back. Mason Raymond is gone, Dave Bolland is gone, Jerry D’Amigo is gone. Which Leafs forwards can play on the PK? Bozak? JVR? Well if you don’t like those guys, how about a healthy serving of Jerred Smithson?
If you base the $2.95 cap hit for Komarov on how he was used before, then yeah, that’s one hell of a price tag. If you base it on what could and should happen, which is an increase in even strength ice time, a lot of time on the PK, and possible time playing centre, then it makes more sense. Furthermore, if I’m Dave Nonis and Randy Carlyle isn’t using Leo Komarov as the player I’m paying him like, I’m not a happy camper. If you still don’t like Leo Komarov’s cap hit, consider this:
Frattin-Holland-Komarov might end up being the Leafs’ third line at a lower cap hit than David Bolland on his own
— Jeff Veillette (@Jeffler) July 1, 2014
Welcome back, Leo.
Check out Jeffler’s excellent post on the hilarious Leo Komarov rule in the KHL that only a guy who gave as few damns as Leo Komarov could invoke. Also check out this trip I took with Komarov to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.