It’s been quite some time since Leo Komarov suited up for an AHL match, but that’s exactly what may have to happen if he wants to continue to play professional hockey. The New York Islanders have assigned Komarov to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers after he cleared waivers earlier today, activating Matt Martin from injured reserve to take his place on the roster.
Komarov, 34, hasn’t played an AHL game since the 2012-13 season, his first year in North America after finally signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs out of the KHL. The 2006 draft choice spent years overseas before ever joining the Maple Leafs and actually returned for the 2013-14 season, but has been in the NHL ever since. In fact, it wasn’t so long ago that Komarov was lining up beside Mathew Barzal on the Islanders’ top unit–even though that became a point of amusement among many hockey fans as he clearly didn’t earn that spot on his offensive merit.
Waivers wasn’t an entirely new experience for Komarov, as he cleared three times last season. But he was never sent to the minor leagues because of the existence of the taxi squad, something that isn’t around this season. It will be interesting to see if he will actually report to Bridgeport and play in the minors, or something else will come of the veteran forward’s future. At the very least, the Islanders will receive $1.125MM in cap space by assigning him there, the maximum allowed to be buried. Komarov normally carries a $3.0MM cap hit on the final season of his four-year, $12MM deal.
It’s been years since he was effective at the opponent’s end of the rink, with just one goal and eight points in 33 games last season, but Komarov was actually once selected to an NHL All-Star Game because of his offensive contributions. In 2015-16 he recorded 19 goals in 67 games, a number that came very close to leading the rebuilding Maple Leafs. In his career, he has just 63 total tallies in 491 regular season games.