Morning Mashup: The Enigmatic Mike K
Mike Komisarek came to Toronto in July 2009. Coming off a solid year with the Canadiens the bruising defeceman opted to test free agency which he did with much success. After all, signing a 5-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, averaging $4.5 million per season can be considered just that after you examine his current worth on the hockey market.
Komisarek had his best seasons playing alongside Andrei Markov, a highly skilled puck moving defenceman. Two of Markovâ€™s main attributes are his play under pressure and supreme skating skills, both of which managed to perfectly complement Komisarekâ€™s lack of speed and his tendency to get caught out of position when going for that big hit.
So far, Mike hasnâ€™t come close to living up to his price tag. On January 2, 2010, with only 34 games played in his debut season, Komisarek injured his shoulder in a game against the Calgary Flames, and on February 3, 2010, it was revealed he would require season-ending surgery. One can hardly blame him for getting injured but he followed that campaign with a horrendous 2010-2011 season. In his 109 games played in a Maple Leaf jersey Komisarek is -17. During his last three years with the Habs (223 games) he was +16. Granted, his play with the Leafs saw him made appearances out of the top 4 Dman group but while that might be a logical cause of his plus minus drop, itâ€™s hardly a good excuse since it speaks volumes about his level of play.
However, things arenâ€™t as bleak as they appear to be. Sure, there isnâ€™t a team in the NHL that would look forward to taking on his deal and yeah, at times last season he did seem like a pylon out there, a pylon with no physical edge but really, things arenâ€™t that bleak. There are two major reasons for this assumption.
Itâ€™s becoming clear that Komisarek needs to have the puck less to be effective. Pairing him up with a good solid puck mover can shift his focus to what he does best â€“ defend with an edge. In that regard last season was an outlier. During his first season here he did struggle to adapt but he did hit. At the start of last season, he seemed to lose his edge, probably due to his shoulder injury recovery. Komisarek needed almost an entire season to get it back, but towards the end of 2010-2011 campaign we did see a more confident, hard hitting Mike. Hopefully, that will transition into next season.
Even if we donâ€™t, Burke believes in him, going on record and saying he believes Mikeâ€™s game is rounding into form. I know itâ€™s hard to believe, but it is possible the adjustment period in 2009-2010 followed by the injury and lack of confidence in the shoulder coming into last season all clicked to make his life in a Maple Leafs jersey a miserable one. Donâ€™t expect a miracle (him living up to his cap hit) but if he can move past that, paired with a solid puck moving defenceman Komisarek can still play a good enough role with the Leafs.