Leo Komarov is back in the NHL.
After a season with Dynamo Moscow in the KHL, the 27-year-old Komarov is returning to the Toronto Maple Leafs on a four-year, $11.8 million contract, an average of $2.95 million per season.
With the Maple Leafs losing Dave Bolland to the Florida Panthers as an unrestricted free agent, it was important, almost essential for Dave Nonis to get Leo Komarov back in the blue and white.
He only spent one season in Toronto before returning to the KHL, but it was more because the money wasn’t there, not because Komarov didn’t enjoy playing in Toronto.
In return, Leaf Nation embraced Leo Komarov as a fan favourite. He’s the kind of player other teams always need to be aware of on the ice, because he will hit anything and everything in his way.
He’s also the kind of player who will always leave it on the ice (he even has trouble leaving the ice!), and he will do whatever is asked of him. The fact that he was an alternate captain for Finland at the Sochi Olympics should also speak to the type of character Leo Komarov brings to the ice and the dressing room.
His Toronto teammates clearly like the signing.
— James van Riemsdyk (@JVReemer21) July 1, 2014
@LKomarov hesssss backkkk!
— Tyler Bozak (@Bozie42) July 1, 2014
Some people will criticize the contract, saying Leo Komarov is being paid way too much for what he brings as a bottom-six forward on the Maple Leafs. However, as I mentioned above, his impact goes far beyond the ice.
Jeff Langridge of Editor In Leaf sums up his impact pretty nicely.
Komarov was a big part of the Leafs team that made the playoffs in 2012-13. He is that agitator-type of player that the Leafs hadn’t had since the days of Darcy Tucker. Komarov does have some offensive potential but it has yet to really show itself in the NHL. He also is an asset on the penalty kill.
Leo Komarov is always going to be a thorn in an opponent’s side, and he can talk trash in five languages. However, he prefers to let his play on the ice do the talking, and if Langridge’s Darcy Tucker comparison does pan out, Leaf Nation will fall in love with Leo Komarov all over again, especially at just over half of Dave Bolland’s asking price.