The New York Islanders’ second move on the day they lost John Tavares was to sign Toronto Maple Leafs center/winger Leo Komarov to a four-year contract worth a total of $12 million, according to multiple reports.
It’s not a good look.
Understanding that one can’t control the sequence or optics of such things — hey, Tavares held them by a string all last week and into Sunday — it’s still tough to take for a signing of a fourth-liner to be their most expensive addition of the day as of 4 p.m.
Earlier in the day, the Islanders re-signed defenseman Thomas Hickey for four years. While some certainly argue that Hickey is just a continuation of the status quo, he’s at least a useful player and his contract slots in fine. He’s likely to do well under Barry Trotz.
Komarov, however, looks like a continuation of the Garth Snow tendency to overpay and over-commit to fourth-line talent. Komarov tends to be used in the more traditional “checking line” role of tackling tougher opposition, with lots of defensive zone assignments. But his results in that role aren’t terribly promising, though noted hockey royalty like Mike Babcock tended to use him that way again and again.
He had seven goals and 19 points in 74 games last season. That followed career highs of 19 and 14 goals the previous two seasons, on poorer teams where his role was a little higher in the lineup. Expect at best around 10 goals as a bottom-sixer and penalty killer next season. He won 112 of his 219 faceoffs last season, a career-high 52.8%.
Not to bury him before he shows up; he may in fact prove useful for the Isles. But he represents another piece of what they already have in surplus.
There had been rumblings that the Rangers were interested in Komarov, which would’ve been great. Instead, he lands on the Isles. Hopefully they didn’t outbid their rivals for him.
At least the contract descends in actual compensation over the four years, so that makes it more tradable to a cap floor team if and when it starts to look worse and worse for the Isles.
Leo Komarov to the NYI, four years, AAV of $3M. Yearly breakdown is $4M, $3.5M, $2.5M and $2M.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 1, 2018