As Alex Tran discussed a week ago, apparently Leo Komarov is willing to join the Leafs. The feeling is that the 25-year-old Finnish forward is finally ready to make the transition to the best league in the world once the World Championships conclude.
“I hope so â€” as fast as possible, if they need me and they give me a good contract then I will go over there.
Komarov has one year remaining on his KHL deal but his KHL contract might include an out clause that can be activated after the World Championship. Although, that’s not what the following quote suggests:
“I’ve got a year in Dynamo left so I don’t know if they will let me go, it’s my agent’s work.”
Whatever the case may be, trying to sign Komarov just got more likely. It also may speak about Burke’s intent to make this team harder to play against than it does about him signing a player that will significantly improve our on ice talent. However, donâ€™t be fooled, Komarov can score. Here’s what Burke had to say about it:
“You’ve seen him, he’s not big but he’s dynamic, explosive, obnoxious and skilled. He’s a really hard guy to play against, makes things happen out there and we’re hopeful at some point that he joins the organization.”
This is a move that basically states â€œthis is the kind of player we need on our hockey clubâ€ and even though Komarov wonâ€™t be counted on to fill a top six role, he could still prove to be a valuable player for this team. When talking about his skillset think a skilled-Maxim-Lapierre type. I wouldn’t go the Ruutu route myself.
Donâ€™t know about you, but this writer is always in favor of bottom six players who can contribute offensively while at the same time relishing the role of an energy player. If anything, Komarov fits that description.
Still, I feel more excited about what this move (even though it has been in the works for some time now) means for the direction of the Leafs than what Komarov himself will mean for the team.
Here is why. There is a distinct feeling that Burke, had he pursued him more aggressively, could have gotten Komarov earlier (there were even reports of negotiations last year) â€“ that wasnâ€™t the case so Komarov opted for yet another KHL term. Be it because of Carlyle/new coaching philosophy or Burkeâ€™s old vow of truculence coupled with the experience of his team being pushed around quite a lot this past season, you clearly get the feeling that signing Komarov has become more of a priority this offseason.
If you look at Brad Marchand or players of that ilk, it seems a given that any good team has at least one good agitator (I just hope the Maxim Lapierre copy wonâ€™t be taking Maxim Lapierre â€œsmartâ€ penalties). Burke might not like the instigator, but that, along with modern day NHL rules, clearly benefits the agitating type of player â€“ not saying Komarov will â€œrun around and not fightâ€ (to quote Burke on rats), but seeing how much impact these players have in the modern game one has to stop arguing over their existence and admit one could use such a player.
Regardless of what Komarov could possibly bring, one thing remains certain; this Leafs team has to become harder to play against. Komarov is just one small step, one that signals that kind of philosophy going forward.
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