The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Curious Case of Mike Komisarek
Heading into the 2011-2012 season, some are saying that the Leafs have one of the deepest groups of defensemen in the entire league. However, buried in the depth chart by offseason acquisitions of John-Michael Liles and Cody Franson is the much maligned Mike Komisarek. With top prospects Jake Gardiner and Jesse Blacker waiting in the wings, fans are wondering where Mike Komisarek will fit in with the Leafs this upcoming season.
Option 1: Trade Him
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Trading Mike Komisarek seems like a win-win situation. The Leafs free up a roster spot for another young player and Mike could get more playing time in another city. His $4.5 million cap-hit could also help a team reach the cap floor. However, working out a trade isn't as easy as it seems. Komisarek's contract come equipped with a limited no trade clause which allows him to submit a list of teams that he would accept a trade to every June 15. There's no guarantee that any of the teams on his list need help getting to the cap floor, or that they would even want Komisarek, his oversized contract and his sub-par play.
Trading him doesn't seem like a very likely option, but there's still a chance that it could happen.
Option 2: Send Him to the Minors
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Following the path of Jeff Finger, Mike Komisarek could be sent down to the Toronto Maple Leafs AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. This would rid the Leafs of Mike's $4.5 million cap-hit and allow a younger player to have a spot on the big club. However, a little known fact about Mike Komisarek is that in addition to a limited no trade clause, he possesses a no movement clause. This means that the Leafs can not send Mike to the minors without his permission. In my opinion, it is very unlikely Mike would give Leafs General Manager Brian Burke permission to kick him out of the best hockey league in the world and off a team of which he is an Alternate Captain.
Sending Komisarek to the minors is an extremely unlikely option and there is almost no chance that this happens.
Option 3: Keep Him
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This is the most likely option.
He would almost certainly play in the bottom pairing or even be a healthy scratch most nights but he's still making $4.5 million a year so things aren't all bad. Although, he may surprise everyone and bounce back to have a terrific season. That's the beauty of hockey, every shift you get a new chance to prove yourself.
So there you have it, all the options the Leafs have regarding defenseman Mike Komisarek for the upcoming 2011-2012 season. Although Komisarek being demoted to the minors has almost no chance of happening, there's still a chance that he could be traded. However, the most likely scenario is that Mike will end up playing the entire 2011-2012 season with the Toronto Maple Leafs and help continue to mentor the young group of Leafs defensemen.