Leo Komarov: the Leafs diamond in rough
It's been a tough couple of years for Toronto Maple Leafs fans, they have been rebuilding for what feels like forever. The Leafs haven't made the playoffs since 2011 when they fell apart in game seven against the Boston Bruins. But they have finally found a decent foundation for them to build on, and his name is Leo Komarov. Komarov has found a home on the Leafs first line under new head coach Mike Babcock. Komarov a veteran of international play has brought new life to a young Leafs team looking for some offense. Under the new coaching staff Komarov has become an all-star, the 29 year-old has bounced around the past few years. He has played in the KHL, AHL, and the NHL before finding his place on the Leafs top line. So far this season he has 16 goals and 31 points to lead the Leafs in scoring.
Komarov has played for the Dynamo Moscow for five of the last six years, during that time he has bounced between the Maple Leafs and Marlies. He left the KHL to join the Maple Leafs in 2012-2013 looking to make a splash in the big show. He played well with the Marlies with six goals and nine points in only 14 games, before rejoining Dynamo Moscow during the lockout. With the new CBA in place Komarov rejoined the Maple Leafs playing in 42 games scoring four goals and nine points. He rejoined Dynamo Moscow the following season looking to earn a spot on Finnish Olympic team. Komarov made the Finnish roster serving as an assistant captain and helping the team to the Bronze medal in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Despite signing a deal in the KHL, Komarov resigned with the Maple Leafs for four years worth 2.9 million every season. Komarov came back to the Maple Leafs looking to make an immediate impact, but was relegated to the third line. In 62 games with the Leafs he had eight goals and 26 points during the 2014-2015 capping. Despite the Leafs missing the playoffs, Komarov returned looking motor determined than ever. Under Babcock Komarov has broken free of his physical preference on the lower lines and has taken the place of Phil Kessel. While he is no Kessel, Komarov has become a valuable asset for the Leafs trying help them get back into the playoff picture.
He has already shattered his previous career highs and could be on pace for more than 60 points this season. Komarov's time in Russia likely has attributed to his success in the league so far this season helping him mature as a player. While there is no telling if he can remain the top tool for the Maple Leafs in years to come one thing is for certain right now he one of a few players who are thriving under Babcock. Only time will tell for Komarov, but for now he remains one of a few bright spots for the Leafs his season.
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