Leo Komarov has turned in an impressive season for the Leafs so far, which included an early-season spot among the league’s leading goal-scorers, and has even gone as far as earning him an All-Star nod. But in the second half of the season things have not gone so easily, and while his goal tally is still impressive, Komarov’s output is now settling back near the pedestrian pace he’s shown in the past.
While Komarov was setting the league on fire at the beginning of the season, many folks argued for trading him while his stock was highest, especially considering he turns thirty next January and the team is still somewhat in blowup mode. We obviously don’t know if that had ever been a consideration earlier this year, or if this make-believe market of GMs falling over themselves to get him was ever a reality. But either way, it’s still something the Leafs should probably explore, and if they do, here are five destinations that could make sense for Leo Komarov.
New York Islanders
The Isles have been fancy stats darlings for the last couple seasons, but now that title is wearing off a little and they’re tumbling down the standings as well. New York now operates as a mid-pack possession team by score-adjusted shot attempts, and while they have a decent amount of talent up front, they could use someone who can help out in this regard. Komarov has been a strong defensive player for the Leafs in his time with them, and ranks third among their forwards in relative score-adjusted Corsi% this season.
As for cap implications, the Isles have a decent amount of space as one of the lower spenders in the league, and if they don’t pony up for Okposo this summer, could manage Komarov and his $2.9-million hit going forward. They also have shorter term options they could send back to Toronto, and a couple once-highly-touted prospects who’ve seen their stock fall a bit this season. While Snow hasn’t been afraid to cut bait with big-name futures before, if you get into those names like Ho-Sang and Dal Colle, that’s obviously going to be part of a bigger trade conversation with more coming from the Leafs.
It’s worth noting Lamoriello and Isles’ general manager Garth Snow locked up on Lou’s first trade for the Leafs back in September, when Grabner was sent to Toronto for a boatload of middling prospects.
Potential trade pieces: F Josh Ho-Sang, F Michael Dal Colle, D Thomas Hickey, Isles’ 2nd round pick (2016)
Potential salary dumps: F Cal Clutterbuck (2.75M until 2017)
The Flames are sort of a “win now” team, except they aren’t winning now. With this season now being a wash, they need to figure out a way to build a strong forward group to compliment some great names on the back end. Komarov could be a fit there. Again, as we mentioned, Komarov has shown to be strong defensively, and the Flames certainly are not.
Calgary’s cap situation isn’t ideal but they have some money likely coming off the books this summer in the form of Hudler and Jones, both to the tune of $4-million. They’ll need that coin to help get Monahan and Gaudreau under new RFA deals, but perhaps a move that makes sense here is the Leafs taking on Wideman’s $5.25-million hit for next season to give the Flames some added relief. This might make more sense as a summer deal, and as part of something bigger.
Potential trade pieces: Flames’ 2nd round pick (2016), Flames’ 1st round pick (2017), D Oliver Kylington
Potential salary dumps: D Dennis Wideman (5.25M until 2017), F David Jones (4.0M until this summer), D Deryk Engelland (2.9M until 2017), D Latislav Smid (3.5M until 2017)
Winnipeg is another one of these teams that should be winning now but aren’t.
The Jets have some huge decisions to make on Ladd and Byfuglien, and if one goes, they’ll have to get to work on patching things up. Even if they both stay, that team needs to find a way to boost their lineup and get back to being competitive in the west.
With one of the more wide-open cap situations in the entire league going into this summer, they should be on the short-list for any team looking to make a move.
The Jets have a nice pipeline of prospects, and I’ve included a couple names like Petan and Comrie as potential targets here. But those guys would likely be part of a bigger deal.
Potential trade pieces: F Alex Burmistrov, F Nic Petan, G Eric Comrie, Jets’ 2nd round pick (2016)
Potential salary dumps: G Ondrej Pavelec (3.9M until 2018)
New Jersey Devils
A team with just a ridiculous amount of cap flexibility heading into the summer, the Devils have been a nice surprise in the Eastern Conference standings. They’re going to make a push for the playoffs, but as one of the league’s weaker possession teams, who knows what happens to them down the stretch. Komarov could be a smart addition to help out in that regard immediately, and with all the room they have going forward, he shouldn’t be a problem cap-wise for the next two years.
It seems too easy to just peg Lamoriello’s old team as a potential trading partner, but they do have an interesting situation on their hands and I’d be surprised if the lines of communication haven’t been opened a few times over the season. Remember those Zajac rumours?
Potential trade pieces: F John Quenneville, F Blake Speers, Devils’ 2nd round pick (2016), Sens’ 3rd round pick (2016), Red Wings’ 3rd round pick (2016)
Potential salary dumps: F Travis Zajac (5.75M until 2021)
Anaheim has the room to load up, and now that they’re in the thick of a playoff spot again, they likely will be looking to add at the deadline. While Komarov won’t be a rental for anyone, his two extra years after this one are manageable for the Ducks, especially as David Perron and Chris Stewart fall off the books to the tune of $5.5-million this summer.
It’s no secret the Leafs link up with Anaheim a lot, or at least they have in the past under the Burke/Nonis management groups. While the faces in the front office have changed for Toronto, Nonis, the guy who signed Komarov to his current deal, now works for the Ducks. So the connection is still there.
As we’ve noted in previous pieces in this series, the Ducks will go forward with John Gibson as their netminder of the future, which might make pending RFA Frederik Andersen available. He could be worth gambling on for the Leafs.
Potential trade pieces: G Frederik Andersen, Ducks’ 2nd round pick (2017), Wild’s 3rd round pick (2016)
Potential salary dumps: F Patrick Maroon (2.0M until 2018), F Nate Thompson (1.6M until 2017)