May 8, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Leo Komarov (47) with the puck against the Boston Bruins during game four of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs at the Air Canada Centre. The Bruins beat the Leafs 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Leo Komarov Returns to the Toronto Maple Leafs

A causal fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs can be forgiven for discounting the return of Leo Komarov.

After all, Komarov only spent one season in Toronto, amassing a paltry nine points (4 goals, 5 assists) across 42 games during the shortened 2012-2013 season. For the casual fan, this is really the only metric that matters and it doesn’t bode well for his importance to the team.

A true fan, on the other hand, has likely been incapacitated with joy since the return of Komarov on Tuesday. I’ve only just recovered myself, taking the time now to express my happiness. It’s good to know the team didn’t completely blow the free agency period.

What makes Komarov so special?

For a team in desperate need of establishing its physical presence, Komarov brings the kind of high-flying, high-impact energy that David Clarkson and Dave Bolland failed to supply last season. In looking for toughness, the Leafs failed to appreciate what they already had on the team and almost lost Komarov for good to the Moscow Dynamo of the KHL as a result.

How tough is Komarov?

During the 2012-2013 season, he ranked fifth overall in the NHL for hits at 167. Clarkson was tied for 107th overall at 84 hits while Bolland was tied for 306th overall at 43 hits.

Komarov also spent less time in the penalty box (18 penalty minutes in 42 games) than Clarkson (78 penalty minutes in 48 games) and Bolland (22 penalty minutes in 35 games) that season, getting under the skin of his opponents without hurting his own team in the process.

In time, the casual fan will come to fully appreciate Komarov as he speeds across the ice like a streaking comet and delivers the same impact as one on contact. He’s one of the few “character” players to wear the Leafs jersey since the days of Tie Domi and Darcy Tucker, which is another bonus.

I always thought it was a mistake when the Leafs originally let Komarov leave for the KHL at the end of the 2012-2013 season, but I’m glad the little Cosmonaut has returned.

The Bolland experiment never really worked out in Toronto and now that he’s gone, Komarov is the perfect guy to supply the toughness that the Leafs so desperately needed but never really got from him.

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Tags: Darcy Tucker Dave Bolland David Clarkson Leo Komarov Tie Domi Toronto Maple Leafs

  • A13276

    Who woulda thunk that Nonis would have a cool $5 million in his sock drawer after all the bloodletting. That’s after accounting for recent signings and RFA money due. Now we can sit back and wait for a player of consequence to become available as a result of a team in CAP trouble without having to move money out or penetrating the 10% CAP overage ceiling. Good work Nonis. Talk about value for your dollar. The bottom 6 has been drastically retooled and upgraded. Santorelli can fly, has hands and loves to bang; he became available because he was a find of the Gillis regime (Nucks fans aren’t happy seeing him leave); Kontiola (“I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know”), had 5 or 6 NHL teams interested in him; has skill and one of his strengths is reported as “running a power play”; Komorov will get all of Kulemin’s quiet minutes and dramatically help last year’s abysmal penalty kill (28th from 2nd the year before when Komorov was here and we made the playoffs); Frattin can play and is tough on the puck. So we have an improved bottom six, penalty kill and defense; all identified weaknesses. And Nonis still has $5 mil in cap space to burn and tradeable assets in Franson and Reimer. And don’t be too surprised if Nylander forces himself into the Leafs top six; that’s his plan.

  • Stan Smith

    Scott Gordon was quoted as saying he thought the loss of Komarov was one of the reasons the leafs failed to make the playoffs this season.

  • jimithy

    Komorov for captain. Captain Komorov with a ‘K’ not a ‘C’. Kaptain Komorov.

  • David Da Rocha

    How do you justify the contract? Let’s be honest here, he has not played a full season in the NHL! Yes he’s pacey and doesn’t shy away from physical play..I know there were other players available who would’ve provided that, as well as offence. At the end of the day, it’s too much money for an average player at best, who will be playing in Toronto’s bottom six! This team lacks many things, yes, a strong forecheck is one of those things, Komarov will help there, but our main issue (besides defensive stability) of consistent goal scoring remains unresolved.