For the month of August, Editor In Leaf will take a look at the Toronto Maple Leafs roster, previewing what could happen in the 2014-15 NHL season. Next up is Finnish agitator Leo Komarov.
Years With Leafs: 1 (2012-13)
Leo Komarov is back. After opting to head back to Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League for the 2013-14 season, the 27-year-old forward has agreed to return to the Toronto Maple Leafs, signing a four-year deal, worth just under $3-million per season.
The Finnish national was a fan favourite in Toronto during the 2012-13 season—the only one in which the team reached the postseason since the lost season of 2004-05—leading the team in hits with 176.
His grit, toughness and forechecking ability will surely be welcome up front for the Leafs, but his contract remains a point of contention for some.
In his first stint as an NHL player, Komarov played almost exclusively on the fourth line, with his cap being a much more manageable $1.2-million. At nearly $3-million a year, Komarov will surely be expected to contribute a bit more (one of the reasons he returned to Russia last season was to work on his game so he could do just that).
Perhaps a full-time role on Toronto’s third line is in order, but if that’s the case, he’ll also be expected to provide more offensively.
Last time around, Komarov tallied just nine points in regular season contests—and none in the club’s seven playoff tilts. Extrapolated over an 82-game season, that works out to under 20 points, which isn’t exactly what you’re looking for from someone making more than young centreman Nazem Kadri.
Last year in Russia, he did excel a bit more offensively, leading the Western Conference champion Dynamo Moscow with 34 points in 52 games—he added four more points, three of them goals, in the club’s seven postseason matchups.
Another area Komarov should see increased responsibilities is on the penalty kill. In 2012-13, only Jay McClement and Nikolai Kulemin saw more shorthanded time-on-ice per game than he did among all Leafs forwards. Neither of those players are with the team heading into 2014-15.
After his successful year overseas and big pay raise in free agency, expectations are high for Komarov. Hopefully, for Leafs fans, he lives up to them.
Big Question: Will Komarov be able to provide more offensively after his successful season in Russia and new, more expensive contract?