On Friday, hockey fans in Zagreb, Croatia got to see the fantastic Dynamo Moscow, without a doubt the best hockey team outside the NHL. Their ‘pest’ is also a fantastic player, one particularly familiar to Leaf fans – Leo Komarov. Our beloved Finnish grinder is doing a bit of everything in the KHL, including throwing opponents off their game. In last night’s 5:0 trashing of Medvescak, he managed to get Hugh Jessiman thrown out of the game on a major penalty for spearing; the former Rangers prospect completely lost his mind…
‘Yeah, you know, they’re supposed to know who I am and everything, it was a little stupid of him, I just did my job’, said Komarov who leads the team with 28 points in 36 games. After some quick words about the game, KHL.hr’s Danijel Jelenek and yours truly talked to Leo about his NHL journey both prior and after the game against Zagreb’s Bears.
You played very well for the Leafs last season. Do you see yourself coming back next year?
‘Yeah, I’m trying to get back to the NHL and I hope some team will pick me up. But it was my decision to leave (the NHL) too, we’ll see if it turns out to be a good decision or not.’
Did you leave because you wanted top six minutes?
‘No no no, I’m not that kind of a player, everything was good with the Leafs and I really enjoyed it there. But I didn’t get the offer I maybe wanted, and I wanted to play a lot of minutes over here (in the KHL) because it’s an Olympic year and I knew that if I came back to Dynamo I’d get a lot of ice time. It’s hard to say really, I liked the team, the city, everything – coming back (to Russia) was a hard decision.’
If you do end up returning to the NHL, would you like it to be with the Leafs?
‘Oh yeah, I enjoyed it there, it was probably the best time of my life. I was really happy to play with the Leafs and I hope they are going to take me back, but you never know what’s going to happen. They hold my rights until July and I would love to get an offer from the Leafs.’
What was your favorite goal in a Leafs jersey?
‘The first one against the Montreal. I’ll remember that whole my life.’
Do you still watch them this season?
‘Yeah, I follow them really closely.’
You can find the full interview with some more really great Leafs content over at KHL.hr, your source for glorious Finnish pests and news about the Kontinental league. In all honesty, we quite enjoyed talking to Leo, who seemed as much as a fan of the Leafs as the two editors conducting the interview or anyone here at the Hot Stove. Personally, I do feel this team misses Komarov and, as you can read in the rest of our interview, he misses Toronto.
RealKyper: Phaneuf terms were agreed to and never fell off 7 yr/50m range @Sportsnet reported in Oct. Signing off on no move or limited no trade left.
Have you guys noticed that Andreas Johnson made 3 points against Finland today. Total 4 points in 2 games. Looking pretty good
Capgeek says the Leafs have almost $29 million in cap space with 12 players signed next year. What remodelling should the team do?
Love the Komarov interview. For those of us who urged Nonis to pay him it is rather upsetting watching this team game in game out without players who do his job. Nonis gave term and money to Clarkson who spends more time getting upset at the opposition than he does getting the opposition upset. Paying $2.8M for players like Kulemin and Komarov are necessary costs to building a responsible team hard to play against.
@Yaknowwhat We outplayed the Czechs by a ton today. We just had a goalie who wouldn't make a big save, and from what I've been told he's basically the best of what we have in the system.
I think the failure lies in the development of Canadian goalies right now.
@Yaknowwhat yeah i would not be surprised if we didnt get a medal
@Great Dane hopefully he surprises but unless he is producing in the NHL or AHL i dont take any of the junior stuff really seriously any more. A lot of players are good in the juniors but can not make the NHL
If you take away Berniers first ten games he has not been that great. He has let us down some games like the LA game. Also Bernier shows a slight problem closing out games.
However it is obvious RC and Nonis are Bernier fans...it may be for the better but I am not convinced.
My guess is Reimer gets moved.
@Yaknowwhat I hope so, but sadly, no. I don't have much faith in Nonis to do the right thing, lol...
@Yaknowwhat Luckily, we can.
@Xxxxxnew Minus Dion's 7m.
@Xxxxxnew sign joe thorton ;)
@B_Leaf Although Clarkson has played like shit for the most part I think most of us were happy to have him on the team. If we get Komarov back it'll likely be at the expense of a guy like Kulemin who's overpaid as well.
@Cameron19 I hope Reimer is traded simply because I don't want to go through another year of Carlyle yanking him around. Teams with 2 starters have none, IMO.
Clarkson at the term and amount left some of us wondering what the cost would be in depth. I think we have seen that. If Komarov costs us Kulemin I too think that move is mostly sideways although I might actually prefer Komarov based on recent performances...not sure. But for my money I would want both, especially on this team.
@Black_Hawk Granberg will be with the Leafs soon and will not look back. Nilsson is probably a year away
@Cameron19 Oh...this is one player I fully expect to make us regret getting rid of him. I don't say that about players when they get moved...but Reimer will be good.
@Yaknowwhat Why would it not be?
@Yaknowwhat Keeping both is the right thing....
@Yaknowwhat Did I say that?
@Black_Hawk No...because Dion is listed as a UFA so he has zero salary on next year's books.
@Cameron19 Agree with the first part for sure.
I'd say if there's any truth to it being easier to sign Kessel with Bozak signed (I still doubt it though) then I would lose a lot of respect for Phil. But if was indeed the case and Nonis knew it then I would have just told them that there was 10m for the pair of them and they can split it any way they like.
If there really was any funny business with Kessel and Bozak, we might have been able to snatch O'Reily and a 1st for Kessel - and who knows how high that pick might have been. Probably not MacKinnon, but...
@Cameron19 Yeah...if it was just about Cap Management I would have let Bozak walk AND bought out Grabs and Liles. Then find someone on the market. The real head-scratcher for me was wasting a buyout on Komi's one year left.
@Cameron19 Oh, and not Philly. LOL
@Cameron19 Teams like us have to pay the "non-contender" tax. Once we've been a winner for a few years I bet it gets easier.
@Cameron19 Probably. They're lucky at how cheap Neal and Kunitz are. But if you're giving a guy like Kulemin 3m the space will disappear fast.
@djamon @Cameron19 Yea, I think they will keep one of those two, for sure. I think they'll keep Niskanen, as the speed of the game is starting to pass Orpik by. Tons of cheap rookies to replace the other.
The forwards they need to replace next year are guys that are super cheap anyways. Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz, Dupuis and Bennett are taken care of. If they want guys like Glass, and Jokinen and Sutter back, you're looking at under 5.5 million for the 3 of them.
@Cameron19 Not sure about that. They basically have 6 NHL forwards under contract for next year. Then they have to decide on Orpik and Niskanen.
@Cameron19 You could be right. But Pitt has a tight squeeze in store for them in the off-season.
@Cameron19 And I'm fine with that. As a winger he needs to do more to earn more than 3m, IMO. Fight, score....something.
@B_Leaf If it cost us 4m for both Komo and Kuli I'd be ok with that. But Kulemin at anything more than 2m is an overpay. I didn't realize we'd miss komarov, but I actually think that edge is what we've been lacking.
@Cameron19 And it wasn't just money, but the respective roles on the team.
@Cameron19 True enough. I'll be curious to see what he wants and what the Leafs are willing to pay him. He can be frustrating, but he's been very valuable to us.