With Leo Komarov set to become a free agent this offseason, reports suggest he would like to discuss his future with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
That would continue during the Randy Carlyle era. When Mike Babcock took over behind the bench, Uncle Leo’s role became more defined. His strong defensive game and physical style was something that allowed him to thrive throughout the 2015-16 season.
Playing a career-high 17:50 minutes per night, Komarov would put up his best season in the Blue and White. He recorded 19 goals, 36 points and 283 hits and he was a plus possession player in 67 games.
During the 2016-17 season, there wasn’t a massive drop-off for Komarov as he scored 14 goals while playing 17:04 a night. This past season, however, was where the noticeable decline started to happen.
The 31-year-old went from being a staple on the second line with Nazem Kadri to being moved down to the fourth line, while maintaining a crucial role on the penalty kill.
His minutes started to decrease and when he was forced to leave with an injury in the playoffs, there was no way Babcock was going to play him over Andreas Johnsson.
Now as team’s prepare for their offseason planning, it appears that Komarov’s agent Todd Diamond is trying to gauge the Leafs’ desire to bring his client back.
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This shouldn’t be a surprise, as Diamond will likely try to use Babcock’s desire to play “good pros” in the lineup. But this is a new regime with Kyle Dubas in charge and as good as Komarov is with his leadership, there are more affordable options available with the Toronto Marlies.
Kasperi Kapanen will likely play a bigger role next season along with Johnsson but there’s also Carl Grundstrom, who’s been making a name for himself during the Calder Cup playoffs.
This is where the Leafs can save money on veteran players like Komarov. They can try to look for depth at centre and on the blueline in free agency. It also helps free up cap space for future contracts.
While Komarov’s cap hit of $2.95 million wouldn’t significantly dent the Leafs’ cap space, with Matt Martin‘s $2.5 million on the books, it would do more harm to have another similar contract like that.
What are your thoughts on the Komarov report. If the Leafs don’t bring him back, then who should replace him? Let us know in the comments below.