At the end of April, SKA St. Petersburg announced several players would not be returning to the KHL club for next season. Among those was veteran NHL forward Leo Komarov, who was suddenly without a team. After some rumors earlier in the summer that suggested he would be heading to Sweden, he once again has been linked to the SHL today.
This time, it’s Brynas who are expected to sign Komarov, the same club that was connected to Johan Larsson yesterday. Now 35, Komarov actually started last season in the NHL, before agreeing to a contract termination in order to find more playing time overseas and compete in the Olympics (where he won gold). Despite his Russian-sounding name, the veteran forward was born in Estonia and grew up in Finland, which is also the country he competes for internationally.
A return to North America always seemed unlikely at this point, given how far his game had declined in recent years. An all-effort-every-time kind of player, Komarov banged and crashed his way through nearly 500 regular season games in the NHL, racking up 1,572 hits in the process. He had a career-high 19 goals and 36 points during the 2015-16 season with the Toronto Maple Leafs but would come nowhere close to those totals with the New York Islanders.
In fact, over parts of four seasons, Komarov had just 11 total goals for the Islanders, despite seeing time alongside Mathew Barzal occasionally. A contract in Sweden would likely close the book entirely on his NHL career, if it hadn’t already been shut. In 491 career regular season games, he scored 63 goals and 170 points.