Leo Komarov set to return to the NHL


Leo Komarov will not take up a contract option with Dynamo in the KHL and appears certain to return to the NHL next season. Leafs fans have been tracking him all year since his return to the KHL as Leo has worn Leafs apparel against his team’s wishes and told KHL news outlets he would love to return to Toronto.

Leafs fans love Komarov and want their favorite polyglot pest back on the team, but where it gets tricky of course is Dave Nonis’ job of setting aside emotional ties to the player and trying to arrive at fair value with a contract offer. Something Nonis attempted to do after the 2012-13 season, but for a collection of reasons – salary, needing to play an offensive role in the KHL to make Team Finland for Sochi – he returned to the KHL.

Komarov posted 9 points in 42 games in 2012-13 while playing just under 14 minutes a game (third line role). That’s a 17 point pace over 80 games, but there might be a little more to give here based on his KHL track record and the fact that it was just his first 40-odd games in the NHL. You also wonder if Komarov could potentially ride shotgun on a skilled line, because a duo such as Kadri and Lupul, if both still here, could use some jam – and Komarov’s ability to take a faceoff – on the other wing, where Kulemin might not be back season (Leo seems like the type who could get Kadri fired up if he played on his line again). Komarov also played 1:48 a game on the PK, which at the time was among the best in the League.

What was most valuable about Komarov was his ability to set the tone for his line in the bottom six. There were no easy minutes with him on the ice, which is an element the “easiest team to play against” last season could certainly use among their forward group. He brings a measure of versatility (can play C) and defensive responsibility to whatever line he might play on.

Where do we place him, salary wise? Nonis lowballed him as an RFA, according to some reports, and he’s now a UFA who can poke around the market some on July 1. It’s a tough call as Komarov is a bit of a unique case.

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