The Toronto Maple Leafs saw their 2013 season provide excitement as they reached the postseason, but they came up short and did not get out of the first round. Now they must deal with eight free agent forwards, meaning not everyone is coming back. With a need to lock up tope performers like Nazem Kadri, Clarke MacArthur and Tyler Bozak, as well as enforcer Colton Orr, players like Joe Colborne and Leo Komarov are more interesting options. Komarov is reportedly mulling an offer to return to Russia and play, and the Maple Leafs would be wise to walk away if his price goes too high.
Komarov proved to be a somewhat effective low-line grinder, and scored four goals and had nine points. His upside includes taking few penalties while frequently drawing them and a solid face-off percentage. His salary was less than $900,000 this season but his cap hit was $1.2 million, and it would be hard to justify giving him much of a raise over that. He could get a much bigger payday in the KHL, and that may be the best option for both parties at this point. The Maple Leafs have better places to spend their money, and have no shortage of gritty prospects in the AHL. The team is headed in a positive direction, and wasting cap space on a player who provided only nine points in 42 games doesn’t help that positive momentum.
This was Komarov’s first season in North America. He was a 2006 Maple Leafs draft pick, and scored 11 or more goals in two seasons with the Moscow Dynamo. It won’t be easy to give up on him after just one season, but the Maple Leafs can’t afford to overpay for a “project” player either.