At the beginning of the 2017-18 season, there were three question marks hovering around the Leafs roster. What was going to happen with James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, and Leo Komarov? The safest bet was that one of them was going. Odds are the man who doesn't like to wear a mouthguard.
That sentiment changed as the year went on and the Leafs made their way to historic numbers. We began to picture and accept a world without them. If you ask any fan or basement blogger, it’s almost a foregone conclusion.
So, why not add some darkness to our days and consider how would it look if they all re-signed in the summer?
Komarov is the easiest place to start. The 31-year-old had his worst year offensively since the 2012-13 season with 7 goals and 12 assists in 74 games. He also proved time and time again to be an ‘elite’ penalty killer per Mike Babcock.
However, the team looked to be more fluid when Komarov was demoted to the fourth line and looked it’s most lethal in the playoffs when Andreas Johnsson was in instead.
Bozak went from being the team’s ‘number one centre,’ to being propped up by Mitch Marner, and finally babysat by Connor Brown. All phases included seasons of little to no defence. He managed to hit 50 points for the first time in his career last season, again via Marner, but more often than not, watching Bozak in the defensive zone was more nerve-wracking than the final battles in Avengers: Infinity War.
It’s a simple story for JvR. There’s no discounting his specialty in scoring goals. If you set him up around the net on the power play, odds are your team is scoring. It may not justify the type of money he’ll command in free agency and this is where the darkness of the scenario continues.
The realistic nature of this scenario has JvR as the only recipient of a pay raise. Evander Kane helped his former divisional rival with that seven-year $49 million deal. Based on the raw production, it’s safe to say that Kane’s new cap-hit is JvR’s minimum.
Let’s say the Leafs give him $9 million (because you have to compete with other teams and NHL GMs lose their minds in July).
Komarov and Bozak make $2.95 and $4.5 million respectively. If Roman Polak can get $1.1 million after an OK season and a severe leg injury, Komarov signing a $1.5-1.75 million isn’t too crazy. Let’s go in the middle and say $1.62 million.
Bozak is the player of the three who will definitely get more than he deserves. JvR’s contract will be insane, but you can rationalize why he would make that much. Seeing as how he is a centre and managed to get 40 points, teams may be more willing to overlook his defensive shortcomings.
In the real world, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bozak stay within that $4 million or even scratch the surface of 5. But this is fantasy land and because of that, $3 million.
The numbers could waver based on how stern Kyle Dubas is or how good their agents are. When the moment comes, the salaries could very well be far from the ones I’m coming up with. The moral of this very dark story is that the Leafs will be putting themselves in a massive rut by doing this.
It’s time to move on and focus on the new regime. So if you’re someone who is adamant on any of them coming back, be warned. And to those who already accepted this, sorry for making you cringe.
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