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Uncle Leo!


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.

How do you think this conversation went exactly?

Nonis: Hello, Leo.

Komarov: Privvyet.

Nonis: We’d like you to play for the Leafs again, Leo.

Komarov: Da.

Nonis: I’ve travelled half the world to ask you to be a plug for our team.

Komarov: Da.

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:

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.

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  • FlareKnight

    “But you don’t just hand $11.8 million to a fourth-liner.” To be fair the Leafs handed over 5 million to a guy playing on the third line (or badly on the second), or trading for Holland to be a fourth line center. So I wouldn’t discount them actually paying Komarov to be a fourth liner.

    Komarov is a fun guy to have around. A good physical force who won’t make games fun for the opposition. But is he overpaid at 2.95 per year, oh hell yeah.

    I hope it works out well. But right now that’s a lot of money for someone who has only proven able to be an effective fourth line and PK guy in the NHL. KHL is KHL, NHL is NHL, needs to bring more here for that kind of payday.

  • Off topic question: Why hasn’t any NHL team taken that “YEAHHHHHHH” clip and made it it’s goal song? It’d be worth every single penny they’d have to pay in royalties. Every. Penny.

    That said, LEOOOOOOOOOOO! So happy.

  • Gonzomaus

    Don’t think 2.95M$ per is too much. I would actually go so far as to say that Komarov is the best in the world at what he does (that being a defensively responsible dick/PK-specialist).

    Leafs main PK forwards in the lockout season (who played in more than 60% of the games):

    van Riemsdyk
    PK% 87.9% – 2nd in the league.

    Last season:

    van Riemsdyk
    PK% 78.4% – 28th in the league.

    Of course not saying this is ALL due to Komarov, but it’s something…

    While looking up these stats I found this:
    David Clarkson TOI shorthanded ALL SEASON: 21 f’ing seconds! There’s your “grit, determination and sandpaper” right there…

    • STAN

      Excellent post.

      Signing Leo is a step in the right direction, but is it just me or is it too late for SHANONIS™ to undo the damage (especially with gross overpayments – Phaneuf – and serious cap issues- Clarkson) they’ve already done?

      Sure, allowing Bolland to bolt to a Florida beach for nothing was probably wise (although they had no room to offer him even $4.5 a season), but getting nothing for Raymond and TJ Brennan is ridiculous. Who scores the 19 goals Raymond contributed last year?

      Where is that BIG centre they haven’t had since Sundin?

      How can a 37-year old D-man with serious in jury issues make any sense?

      Nonis got nothing for MacArthur and Grabovsksi and both were key contributors to other teams last season.

      The beat goes on, like a broken record. Quinn = JF = Fletch = Burke = Nonis = Shanahan.

      • Poluza

        Your pseudo-intellectual posts give me violent urges.

        I hate everything you say.

        Apparently you live I’m BC. Cheer for the Nucks. No Leaf fans want to be associated with you

        In conclusion, shut the hell up and I hope you get aids

  • arnoldlwlee

    I love this guy…missed him when he left…he is like that pesky little mosquito flying around your room while trying to sleep. He will force the wingers to stay wide and off his D, while they quarterback the play…I can see him now doing a Cam Neely on someone while Reilly pulls an Orr and goes end to end. Awesome deal.

  • arnoldlwlee

    James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel

    Joffrey Lupul – Nazem Kadri – William Nylander

    Leo Komarov – Peter Holland – Matt Frattin

    Carter Ashton – Sam Carrick – David Clarkson

    If Nylander makes the team do you go with this lineup?

    • arnoldlwlee

      Don’t be silly.

      Clarkson won’t be playing on the fourth line (although it’s not a terrible idea) and Nylander isn’t going to make the team.

      The kid weighs like 160 pounds. Give him some time

    • STAN

      Not a bad group but Nylander won’t be with the big club this year. In fact, if the trade market heats up over the summer, some other names might be different as well.
      Sure hope some Marlie prospects crack the lineup and it feels good to have Komarov back.
      Where does Reimer end up?

  • STAN

    Another bad move by the Potato. We already have quality 4th liners like Orr and Mclaren available. And there is no need to use money on gritty character players like komarov. Just imagine we could sign three to four Orr/Mclaren players with Komarov’s money.

    This is a waste of cap space. #FireNonis

    • Poluza

      Though part of me thinks that it would be hilarious to have four Orrs and FMLs on the roster at once, I don’t think they’d actually be fast enough to catch anyone to fight.

      Though, it would be a great way to tank for McDavid!

    • Poluza

      Komarov got overpaid in the end. 2,25 would have been my absolute max, now Leo will have a lot to prove.

      He needs to be checking everything that doesn’t have a Leafs jersey, yet avoid taking penalties. Helping out with the scoring moreso than last time around, but still be defensively responsible. Hopefully he’ll be great on PK as well. Got to be a daunting task.

      Let’s see if he’s up to it. Good luck to him.

  • Poluza

    I am not sure why people get so work up about the money. There are things in which we need from real fans is to cheer on the team. When there down cheer harder. Leo is great signing because you know what he can do for the club. He will be on the third line with Matt who also can kill penalties and hit.

    You want Noris to improve the team but you complain when Noris does. I will wait until the season is over to say if he was bad signing. Let judge base on fact.