Leo Komarov met the media on locker clean out day following the end of the 2016-17 season.
The optimism coming out of 2013 was there. I don’t know if you can compare it to now, but how do you look forward to the offseason knowing what this club has achieved this year?
Komarov: We did good compared to last year. [Compared to] where we are last year, it’s a big change. We just need to work harder and have a good summer and come out even harder for next season.
How important were the veterans in helping those young kids get ready for the NHL? What kind of role did you, Tyler, JVR and the rest do in the dressing room here?
Komarov: We didn’t do that much. The young guys came in and they were really good. We helped out each other. The whole team was really good. It was fun to be around here. Like I said, it was a great year.
What do you want to accomplish this summer?
Komarov: I’m flying home today. I’ll have a small rest at some point, and then I’m just going to start working out again. It’s going to be a big season next year. It’s going to be even harder than this year. It’s going to be fun.
This has been tough, but we’re all celebrating your accomplishments this year. Can you actually celebrate, or are you thinking about how you could’ve gone further?
Komarov: That’s a good question. I think right now you want to win and it feels bad because it was so close, but the further we go, I think it’s going to feel good. I think we played good hockey, especially in the playoffs. It could’ve gone either way, but Washington was good and they had a good team and they deserve it. But I think we should be proud.
Where did Nazem make his biggest improvements in a career year for him?
Komarov: Nazzy is a great guy and a great player. I think he’s taking care of himself way more now. He’s playing really good defense, and he’s strong with the puck. He’s strong off the puck. He’s still got a lot to learn, but he’s really good.
Why do you think next year is going to be tougher?
Komarov: Our mindset needs to be that we need to win. I think this was a good experience for everyone and we just need to play better.
Do expectations for you guys internally go up?
Komarov: We’re going to put higher expectations on ourselves because all the young guys now know how to play in this league and they’re going to be way smarter and way better.