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Unpopular Opinion: It's Time To Trade Leo Komarov

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The Leafs have to manage their assets more efficiently (ruthlessly?) if they want to be a great team.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Listen, I love Leo Komarov. For so many reasons. He obviously loves being a Leafhe's sometimes hilarioussometimes just awesome, and recently, has been scoring an awful lot of goals for the Toronto Maple Leafs. In fact, he currently leads the team in this regard, and perhaps the coolest part about it is that he's doing it all for $2.95M per season.

On a Leafs team starved for goals and good news (and not exactly in the greatest cap position of all time), why on earth would you trade a guy like that? Two words: asset management.

At this point, any players older than, say, James van Riemsdyk will be well past their prime by the time that the Leafs are good enough to compete, so why not sell high on anything not nailed down by a NTC or NMC? Komarov currently boasts a 22.0 Sh% which is certain to regress, and he will also be 29 in about a month, and so definitely can be considered a player on the wrong side of the aging curve - especially given the physical nature of his play. His contract status (locked up for two more years at a reasonable rate) makes him eminently movable, so why not?

The thing is, Komarov's recent success is not entirely without substance. As his HERO chart shows, he does indeed help to suppress shots against, something the Leafs have struggled with for the better part of a decade. Moreover, his CF Rel TM is ranked as a second-line talent, which is non-negligible, especially given Komarov's reasonable salary.

Komarov HERO chart

If there is one important caveat to the above possession stats, it's the fact that he begins an inordinate amount of his shifts in the offensive zone:

NAME GP TOI/60 Corsi Rel QoC Corsi QoC Corsi Relative Corsi On On-Ice Sh% On-Ice Sv% PDO Pens Taken/60 Pens Drawn/60 Off Zone Start % Off Zone Finish %
JAMESVANRIEMSDYK 30 14.48 0.628 0.298 22.6 15.05 7.5 923 998 0.1 0.6 65.2 51.1
BRADBOYES 24 9.51 -1.385 -0.614 17.4 14.99 6.77 899 967 0.8 0.5 48.3 46.3
MARKARCOBELLO 7 9.3 -0.689 -1.817 6.1 13.83 7.69 933 1010 0 0.9 67.9 56.1
LEOKOMAROV 30 13.71 0.863 0.55 13.5 8.9 8.72 926 1013 0.7 1.2 61.4 50.9
NAZEMKADRI 30 15.09 0.963 0.697 7.7 4.51 8.27 926 1009 1.5 2.4 61 49.5
PETERHOLLAND 25 10.74 -0.386 -0.657 6.1 4.25 5 962 1012 0.2 0.4 39.5 47.5
RICHARDCLUNE 2 8.53 -0.608 -4.858 -3.3 3.52 0 800 800 3.5 0 40 54.5
TYLERBOZAK 26 14.09 0.183 0.48 4.7 1.15 7.61 945 1021 0.5 0.8 55.9 49.3
PIERREPARENTEAU 30 12.32 -0.105 0.299 0.9 -0.16 6.59 929 995 1.3 0.6 56.2 49.3
SHAWNMATTHIAS 29 12.14 0.412 0.684 0.3 -1.36 6.88 936 1005 0.2 0.5 57.2 47.7
BYRONFROESE 24 10.6 -0.94 -0.658 -4.3 -5.43 5.56 924 980 1.2 0.5 23.3 44.3
MICHAELGRABNER 28 9.46 1.08 0.96 -8.3 -7.93 10.53 951 1056 0.2 0 33.7 47.8
JOFFREYLUPUL 25 13.39 1.82 1.139 -14 -12.18 6.92 935 1004 0.5 0.5 39.9 47
DANIELWINNIK 27 12.15 1.842 0.944 -20.5 -16.65 8.16 967 1049 0.4 0.9 29.1 47.4
NICKSPALING 23 12.62 2.46 2.2 -27.8 -21.29 6.03 939 999 1 0 29.1 46.2

Another aspect of Komarov's value is his ability to mentor younger players. Young and talented teams can indeed benefit from the presence of a veteran, and the fact that Komarov can speak seven different languages can only help teammates who struggle with language/cultural barriers in their time in Toronto. Furthermore, Komarov's work ethic, on-ice defensive commitment, and general love of Toronto can only set a good example for other players, and encourage a positive organizational culture.

So overall, although Komarov provides great salary cap value to the Leafs in terms of his scoring, possession numbers, and (probably) leadership, the Leafs need to consider the other, uglier side to this same coin: Komarov is valuable to other teams for all of these reasons, but the Leafs can maximize the value he brings to this team by trading him before his shooting percentage falls, before a shift in zone starts affect his possession stats, before he gets too old, and before his contract runs out and loses controlled value.

The fun part for Leafs fans if Komarov were to be traded is that the team could probably get great value for him. His scoring is above-average, and although his advanced stats aren't flawless, they look good, and he has as fair bit to offer in terms of intangible skills, both on and off the ice. Could the team get a first round pick for him? If he continues his current level of play, it's almost a given they'd get more.

I wouldn't be happy to see Komarov go to another team at all. The tough thing is, it's probably the right move for the Leafs at this stage in their rebuild.