The Return of Leo?

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Uncle Leo!

It’s playoff time, so Leafs talk is scarce. Let’s all take a moment to chuckle at that in a somber manner, sigh, pause for a moment, and tuck all that anguish deep down inside until it resurfaces as an ulcer.

Anyway, the buzz of the day appears to be the seemingly likely possibility that Leo Komarov will return to the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

As a Komarov fan myself, I’m tickled pink by the idea of Leo’s return. What’s the likelihood of it though?

Well that’s an encouraging tweet if I ever saw one! Sounds like a done de- oh wait there’s more.

This one made me raise my eyebrow a bit. I highly doubt Traikos would just blindly pull a number out of his butt. I assume he has a rough idea of Komarov’s asking price. There are a couple questions I have though:

  1. What classifies “Top-6 Money? Anything north of $2 million? $3 million? $4 million?
  2. What will Komarov’s role with the Leafs be if he chooses to come back?
The idea that Komarov will be asking for a lot of money or that he’ll be asking for a top-six role is contrary to everything I’ve ever read or heard about him. Take this December interview with Komarov for example. That article leaves me with the impression that Komarov would be willing to be reasonable about salary. He said similar things on our own site in a September interview with him. If Komarov’s preferred destination is Toronto, a “discount” seems reasonable. If a “long-term deal” is what Komarov is after, as his agent said, then you may expect that “discount” to grow even more. If last summer’s Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson negotiations were any indication, the Leafs won’t be handing Komarov a blank cheque. He’s not even from Mimico!

The story I was always told about Leo Komarov was this: 

  • He won the 2012 Gagarin Cup with Dynamo Moscow and he left the KHL to pursue a new challenge by fulfilling his goal of one day playing in the NHL, leaving money on the table in the process. 
  • He came to North America only to have the lockout delay his goal and was handed a Marlies jersey.
  • He briefly went back to the KHL for more money and to play on a line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
  • He came back to North America, suited up for the Leafs, and was a pesky, loveable jerk.
  • The cap went down and the Leafs fired money at David Clarkson out of a Wile E. Coyote style cannon so affording Komarov became difficult for the Leafs.
  • Komarov wanted to play bigger minutes in the KHL for the 2013-14 season for a better chance at making the Finnish Olympic team, which he was in fact successful in making.
My gut says Leo Komarov will be back with the Leafs, in a reasonable role, at a reasonable price. I should mention however that my gut is not Leo Komarov, his agent, or Dave Nonis. We will keep you updated on this story as it develops.

  • Kanuunankuula

    As much as I love Leo (I’m a Finn), long term and/or top 6 money for a checking forward who’s almost 30 seems like a bad idea… Oh wait, Clarkson

    • TGT23

      Jokes aside, I get the feeling that “long-term” being thrown around is something like 3 years, not him shooting for a max term deal. His last NHL contract was 1 year and he’s not exactly an elite player so 3 years could easily be considered long term for him.

      • Kanuunankuula

        Yes he is 27, but physical guys like Leo and Clarkson (ugh) tend to decline faster than skill-forwards. He’s gonna be 30 soon enoguh, and I would assume he’s gonna decline (from his previous stint) if Leafs sign him. Leo plays his heart out everytime, plays a physical game, but his skill have limits, if you followed the IIHF it was pretty apparent. He’s said that he wants a top 6 role and top 6 money, which in my opinion he is not.

        If they get him for 2-3 years for 1-2mil, great, that’s a good deal. 2.5mil would be fine, 3+ is too much.

        • Kanuunankuula

          Has Komarov himself said that he wants to play top 6 minutes with top 6 money on the Leafs? Or was that his agent?

          I know that he wanted to get picked for Team Finland for the Olympics, and got the best chance of doing so by playing on the first line of Dynamo Moscow. Now that the KHL season and the Olympics are over and done with, I haven’t heard or read anything about Komarov wanting a bigger role on the Leafs.

  • TGT23

    I guess time will show just how long a term he wants to have (3 years? 4 years? More?), but to me, Komarov seems a reasonable guy. Let’s hope Leo would rather return to the Leafs than collect the highest paycheck offered.

    I wonder if Leo could inspire Clarkson to get better too…

  • TGT23

    Something about a Komarov-Bolland-Clarkson third line makes me very happy. I could be happy with that third line if Komarov and Bolland are reasonably priced.

    A nice grit, sandpapery good stick line 2/3’s from Mimico.

    But seriously, in all the games I saw Clarkson is made for a 3rd line role and I think Bolland and Komarov with him could be a very solid checking line that can provide some good offense now and again.

  • TGT23

    I think that Komarov will actually be able to help Clarkson reach his game better because he would draw Clarkson away from all the yapping between plays and focus on the game at hand.

  • I somehow doubt Komarov will command really big bucks. I think the Leafs will be their (our) own worst enemy in bidding his price up.

    I love the guy and I think he’s a great 3/4 line player. But they grow on trees in most any place in the world cold enough to freeze water.

    We think he’s going to be too expensive because a) we are Leaf fans and we think anyone who plays remotely competently for us is coveted around the league, b) we are suckers for a feisty little guy (Theo Fleury would have been crowned King and be sitting beside Tim Lewieke in a bunker if he played here) and c) we equate David Clarkson’s contract with “the price you have to pay to get a player other people want”.

    So, in summary, Leo may not command big bucks but the Leafs are going to pay him something ridiculous just so they can trade Kadri, Gardiner and Kulemon and blame it on the salary cap.

    In second summary, we suck.

  • Leo’s value is in how much checking he did (5th most in the NHL during regular season of ’12-’13), how few penalties he took while dishing out those hits (18 PIM) and how much every opponent hated playing against him. According to some, he was an absolute menace of a pest. All of that as a bonus to being a capable 3rd/4th liner.

    We’ll have to see what is the worth of such qualities in a player to the Leafs.

  • Can we just give Leo a low cap hit and ask/make Clarkson give some of his salary to Leo? And just not tell anyone?

    On the serious note, Clarkson and his contract is really changing the league. Now most 3rd liners will tell their GM “Look at Clarkson’s contract, I’m better than him, so I deserve something among his contract”

    Its also screwing things with our team. Aka we won’t most likely sign Bolland, our hands are tied when it comes to making big deals.

    But its a good thing that the Leafs solution to all this is to trade one of our best young players (Kadri and Gardiner)