Remembering Toronto Maple Leafs NHL All-Star Leo Komarov

Toronto Maple Leafs v Buffalo Sabres
Toronto Maple Leafs v Buffalo Sabres / Kevin Hoffman/GettyImages

The NHL All-Star game is upon us and the Toronto Maple Leafs have four players slated to attend. Forwards Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander will be playing.

They will be accompanied by defenseman Morgan Rielly. This will mark both Nylander and Rielly’s first time as NHL all-stars. After Thursday night's all-star draft, all four will also play on the same team.

The Leafs have struggled at times this season but the team having four all-stars attending the event this year is a stark reminder of how far the team has come. It wasn’t so long ago that the team only had one true all-star calibre player in Phil Kessel. 

After the 2015 NHL Draft, where the Leafs selected Mitch Marner, they traded Kessel. This was when the team under new leadership truly started to dismantle and rebuild. As the team entered the 2015-16 season, the Leafs had no all-star players. This was especially true with previously named all-stars, captain Dion Phaneuf and Joffrey Lupul steeply declining. 

Remembering Toronto Maple Leafs NHL All-Star Leo Komarov

The Leafs did however have some interesting players, James Van Riemsdyk who scored 30 goals twice for the Leafs was in the midst of his prime. A young Nazem Kadri was finally slated to see an increased role. There were two young offensive defencemen in Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner. Finally, Kessel’s former linemate and roommate Tyler Bozak was also still on the team and would still be given a top-six role. 

Amongst them, the Leafs had a lot of misfits filling out their lineup in prominent roles. NHL Journeyman, P.A. Parenteau signed a one-year contract in the off-season and played top-six minutes much of that year. Daniel Winnik who the Leafs had traded ahead of the 2015 trade deadline and then re-signed that summer. As well, Michael Grabner, who the Leafs acquired by dumping five minor leaguers (one of which being Carter Verheage) to clear contract slots. We all of course can’t forget former first round pick Peter Holland either. 

As a result, by the time the all-star rosters dropped, there wasn’t many names to choose from. The Leafs were firmly in tank mode and with an already flawed lineup stripped of it’s only elite player, things weren’t looking great. Forward James Van Riemsdyk was the Leafs leading scorer heading into all-star selection but was sidelined by an injury in early January making him unavailable. This lead the way for Leo Komarov as the man selected. Komarov was second in points with 27 in 37 games, only one behind Van Riemsdyk. He had also scored a team leading 15 goals by this time.

Although Komarov wasn’t necessarily deserving of an all-star appearance, with Van Riemsdyk out, he was the Leafs best all-star option that season by that point. It helped that he was also a fan favourite being dubbed “Uncle Leo” by a large portion of the fanbase. By the all-star break Komarov had scored 16 goals and 31 points in 48 games. He played on the Atlantic team alongside fellow all-stars Steven Stamkos, Patrice Bergeron, and Erik Karlsson to name a few. 


Although many fans hum and haw about the 2023-24 Toronto Maple Leafs, just remember how far the team has come. If being a Leafs fan has taught us anything, it could be a whole lot worse. (All Stats Courtesy of