This recent quote by Brian Burke may have shocked and confused more than a few Leafs fans: “I don't see him as the odd man out at all. We really like the way his game came around late in the season. He had a good world championships. He's a right shot. I expect him to play a major role here.”
The player he is referring to? Mike Komisarek: scapegoat extraordinaire.
Next to Brett Lebda, I cannot think of a current Maple Leafs player who has taken more criticism from fans over the course of his time in Toronto.
Whether or not the degree of criticism to which big No. 8 was exposed has been warranted or not is essentially irrelevant. The reason for which, of course, is his $4.5 million salary for the next three seasons... *shudder*.
If there is one thing Burke has shown us all over the course of the last year or so, it's that he has a penchant for moving the immovable. Vesa Toskala, Jason Blake and Brett Lebda (Larry Murphy incarnate) were all deemed untradeable due to horrendous play. Although in Blake's case, he also carried a hefty $20 million, five-year contract.
I still can't decide which is more impressive: Packaging Toskala and Blake for Giguere, or trading Lebda for Franson and Lombardi. It's a toss-up!
Either way, with the emergence of young D-men Schenn, Aulie, Gunnarson and hopefully Franson, Komisarek looks to be the odd man out this coming year. Just exactly how Burke expects him to "play a major role here" is beyond any rational thinking, if you ask me.
Due to the increase in salary cap this coming year to roughly $64 million, the floor has also increased. As of this date, according to capgeek.com, seven teams sit below the floor.
This article will discuss the likelihood of a trade involving Mike Komisarek to each destination. All figures used are courtesy of capgeek.com.
DISCLAIMER: Mike Komisarek has a limited No-Movement Clause. This article is not intended to guess who may be on the list of 12 teams he would agree to be traded to. It's very possible that none of the teams I discuss are on his list.
Let me start this slide off as saying a trade of Mike Komisarek to the Carolina Hurricanes is extremely unlikely at this point. On the other hand, I promised to analyze all seven teams currently below the cap floor. At the end of the day, when Brandon Sutter is resigned, they will be above the cap floor.
Nonetheless, here we go.
A team that is relatively small on the front end could certainly benefit from having a man who, though may not win every physical battle, will use his 6'4", 243-pound frame to his advantage as often as possible.
With Bryan Allen and Tim Gleason already providing bit of toughness from the back end, beefing up a little more could be well worth it given that the Hurricanes look poised to make a solid run at the playoffs this year.
The bottom line: I view Carolina as a very soft team with minimal depth on the blue line at this point. Komisarek could capably play on the bottom D-pair and step up his minutes in case of injury. At this point, if even one of their defensemen go down, the Hurricanes are in trouble.
Acquiring Mike Komisarek could do wonders as an insurance policy.
A third-round pick and Nicolas Blanchard, a big, gritty Canadian kid with one year left on his contract and a lot left to prove. With Jay Rosehill signing a one-way contract with the Leafs, the Marlies could use some toughness to help stick up for their younger players. Known for a fantastic work ethic and willingness to do what it takes to win.
Ugh. Putting a Sens photo in my article hurt a little more than I was expecting...
Any trade involving a swap of players between Toronto and Ottawa is exceedingly unlikely, however, this scenario could be beneficial for both teams.
The Sens are currently $1.2 million from the cap floor and have three spaces available yet on the roster. This means that even without a trade for Komisarek, they will reach the cap floor.
However, I get the sense bottom D pairing has had a good deal of trouble in recent years. Bringing Komisarek in to play in Brian Lee's spot with Matt Carkner would be a good deal grittier and bring quite a bit more experience to the table.
Or, Carkner could end up being the seventh defenseman in this scenario, as Konopka and Neil are more than adequate in the role of pugilist to take on any heavyweights that may try any funny business with this young Ottawa team.
A fifth-round pick and Jim O'Brien, a big, young kid who is projected to be a steady two way checking center. With others ahead of him in the depth chart, such as Jakob Silfverberg, Louie Caporusso and the freshly drafted Mike Zibanejad, the Senators can afford to lose O'Brien without batting an eyelash. On the other hand, the Leafs need centerman, in case no one has noticed...
The Jets are back baby!!! Let me first take a brief moment to congratulate the fans in Winnipeg and offer my condolences to the fans in Atlanta. I hope the franchise finds success in it's new (old) home.
With approximately $2.5 million in cap space and two players left to sign, the Jets may be another possible landing zone for Mike Komisarek. Though their defense seems to be fairly solid, there is room for improvement.
What I would suggest is that Johnny Oduya is overpaid for what he brought the Thrashers last year, just as Komisarek is.
Oduya is getting paid $3.5 million, finished with 17 points, 22 PIM, and was a -15 on the year.
Komisarek had 10 points, had 86 PIM, and was -8 on the year.
Komisarek would offer an upgrade in terms of grit and willingness to drop the mitts on behalf of his teammates, as evidenced by his 86 PIM. His +/- is an improvement on Oduya's, which is was actually very surprising for me to discover.
I am suggesting that a change of scenery might benefit both men.
If Winnipeg wanted to even out the money a bit more, they could throw Chris Thorburn in to the package as well. Or perhaps Jim Slater.
Johnny Oduya and Chris Thorburn or Jim Slater
Hmm. You have to look reallllly really hard to notice, but this is actually a home game for the Coyotes. Just before the players and referees take to the ice.
Sorry, Phoenix fans. It was a low blow, I know. I really do feel for the fans, players and their families. It is an unstable situation to say the least and must not be a wholly pleasant experience for employees of the Phoenix Coyotes.
Fortunately, I think that the Leafs are in a position to possibly do the Coyotes a favour.
I would propose that a possible swap of defensemen named Mike could be in order.
Michal Rozsival had a tough season this past year. Making $5 million, he was traded midway through the year from the New York Rangers down to sunny Arizona. It was hardly a productive season point wise for Rozsival and he did have some injury trouble.
Swapping Komisarek for Rozsival would help the Coyotes with a more durable, grittier option on the back end, and a little bit of cap relief to resign RFA's Kyle Turris, Mikkel Boedker and Lauri Korpikoski.
In my mind, the bottom line is that the Leafs can financially afford to have Rozsival sit in the press box during the season as a healthy scratch. The Coyotes simply cannot. If a player is getting paid that amount, he better be able to contribute. Komisarek won't be an all-star at any point in his career, but with the relative anonymity that would come with playing hockey in Phoenix, the pressure would ease off and he could actually regain his form.
Mike Komisarek and a third-round pick
Michal Rozsival and a second-round pick
The Colorado Avalanche are almost $4 million to the cap floor with one roster spot left to fill.
What better way to reach the floor than to trade for Mike Komisarek? The Avs desperately need an upgrade on D and even though, as I said previously, Komisarek is far from an all-star, the lack of pressure in a smaller hockey market could do wonders for his game.
Colorado's defense is young and inexperienced. Komisarek would bring veteran leadership to the table and a huge body to help patrol in front of newly acquired goaltenders Varlamov and Giguere.
I mentioned that there is one roster spot to fill, however, TJ Galiardi is an RFA and will likely be resigned. Therefore the Leafs would have to bring back a roster player from the Avs as well.
Cody McLeod and a third-round pick.
I really did want to write about all seven teams below the cap floor and a corresponding trade for Mike Komisarek.
I can't even argue for one second that the Nashville Predators would make any trade for Komi. The $7 million in cap space has been set aside for resigning captain Shea Weber. And besides that obvious point, a trade was just completed involving defensemen on Toronto and Nashville that was specifically designed to free up cap space for the Preds.
It's just not going to happen.
At least I won't have many angry Predators fans posting in the comments section. For that, I am thankful.
Not sure what ol' Chuck has to smile about when it comes to the Islanders.
This is the most likely destination for a possible trade of Mike Komisarek. The rumours have been around for quite some time and are fairly justifiable. They have the biggest gap to get to the cap floor at over $10 million, Komisarek and his family are from Long Island, and he still has a home and trains there in the offseason.
The Islanders have some young D-men that are just not ready for the NHL at this point. On the Islanders, they may be. On many other NHL teams, they are not. While the Islanders have some really nice prospects, I would hate to see young players' development destroyed by playing in a losing environment against opposition that is just over their heads.
Let Komisarek come in and offer a buffer zone so that the excellent prospects the Isles have can be protected for the time being. In a short time, I believe that the Islanders will be playing competitively again. Until that time, there is little benefit of exposing the youngsters to what, as an outsider, I view as a negative hockey environment at present.
Anders Lee, a big, strong kid from guess where? Edina, Minnesota! Same birthplace as Brian Burke and recent Toronto draft pick Max Everson. A very prototypical Burke player. And to top it all off, he is a centerman.
This is an ideal swap in my books. It addresses needs for both teams—it's a very logical conclusion to land on.
This brings our journey together to an end.
While it is entirely probable that Brian Burke meant what he said—that he expects Mike Komisarek to play a major role in Toronto this season—it is unclear has to what that role may be.
Is he expecting Komi to actually play like he's earned the "A" on his sweater?
Or is he expecting Mike to be a major piece in a trade over the course of the season?
Your guess is as good as mine.
Hopefully I've offered some insight into potential trading partners (save for the Nashville Predators).
I am open to all feedback and criticism so please let me know what you think! I would especially like to hear from fans of the teams that I mentioned in this article for a contrasting perspective on the hypothetical scenarios I created.
Thanks for reading!