Everybody’s favourite Estonian-born Finnish forward with a Russian-sounding name reportedly wants to make his return to the National Hockey League, and his top choice is the team who drafted him and he played 42 games for two seasons ago.
From Michael Traikos of the National Post on Twitter:
Leo Komarov's agent is in T.O. for draft combine. Says client will play in NHL and looking for long-term deal. Leafs still No 1 choice.
— Michael Traikos (@Michael_Traikos) May 26, 2014
I wrote a bit in today’s News & Notes about how signing Leo Komarov should be considered a no-brainer for general manager Dave Nonis and the Toronto Maple Leafs but I’ll expand on those thoughts here.
Here’s what the Leafs’ forwards situation looks like for next season, via CapGeek:
Those are lot of forwards who are heading to free agency this offseason. Add in Toronto Marlies forwards Peter Holland, Jerry D’Amigo, Kenny Ryan, Spencer Abbott, Brandon Kozun and Trevor Smith, and Nonis and his “capologist” Claude Loiselle are going to have their hands full trying to figure out who to keep and who to trade or let walk.
Basically, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dave Bolland, Nikolai Kulemin, Mason Raymond and Jay McClement all leave this offseason. The Leafs could fill some of those absences with the likes of Ashton, Holland, D’Amigo, and others, but it wouldn’t hurt to bring in a solid veteran who we already know can play bottom-six NHL minutes very effectively.
Enter Corporal Komarov. He’s 27 years old and has played professional hockey since he was 19. He was captain of Moscow Dynamo of the Kontinental Hockey League and has played in virtually every international competition with Finland in the last five years. He may only have 49 games (both regular-season and playoff) of NHL experience under his belt, but we know by now that he’s an effective hockey player.
Komarov will give the Leafs a fourth-line option who can play over 10 minutes a game and face mildly tough competition. He’s also a decent possession player who draws a lot of penalties and the Leafs even had 52 per cent of the five-on-five shot attempts (CF%) during the 190-plus minutes he was on the ice with Nazem Kadri, so there may be some chemistry there.
The Leafs could (and should) have a wildly different bottom-six forward group next season, and Komarov should be a part of it. Make it happen, Nonis.