In a move that surprised exactly no one, the Toronto Maple Leafs used one of their two available compliance buyouts this offseason on defenseman Mike Komisarek’s contract. The 31-year-old veteran had one year and $4.5 million remaining on his five-year, $22.5 million contract signed in 2009. Komisarek will become an unrestricted free agent and is free to sign anywhere he chooses starting this Friday.
Komisarek struggled to live up to his contract seemingly from the moment he signed in Toronto. He was an all star in Montreal playing 21 minutes a night on a pairing with Andrei Markov, and was lauded for his toughness and defensive play. He ended up missing the last 40 games of his first season with the Leafs with a shoulder injury and his role with the team diminished from there.
Komisarek saw bottom-pairing minutes for a 2010-11 Leafs team that finished fifth worst in the league in goals-against. He saw only 45 games in 2011-12, missing 21 games with a broken arm and spending others in the press box as a healthy scratch. His season this year was basically over before it began, playing only four games with the big club before being put on waivers on March 20. Unsurprisingly, he passed through waivers without being claimed by another team and spent the remainder of the year with the AHL’s Marlies,
The buyout gives general manager Dave Nonis a bit more financial flexibility heading into what will surely be a busy free agency period. According to CapGeek, the Leafs have spent just under $49 million on 13 players, meaning they have about $19 million of cap space available to sign nine more. Some restricted free agents who still need to be signed include Nazem Kadri, Cody Franson, Jonathan Bernier, Carl Gunnarsson, and Joe Colborne. Nonis will also have to make decisions on the fates of unrestricted free agents Clarke MacArthur, Tyler Bozak, Mike Kostka, and Ryan O’Byrne.