No Leo For Leafs
It's not a big deal, but the Leafs have experienced their first disappointment of what is shaping up to be an eventful and pivotal off-season.
Instead of signing an entry-level contract with the Leafs, 24-year-old centre Leo Komarov has instead opted to ink a deal in the KHL. Komarov, born in Estonia but a Finn by nationality who played for the gold-medal winning Finnish side at the recent world championships, is a 5-foot-11 disturber who had been described as a smaller version of Jarkko Ruutu.
He was drafted in the sixth round by John Ferguson Jr. in 2006, and the Leafs had hoped to sign him this summer to add more sandpaper to their bottom six forward. Ideally, he might have filled the crucial checking role that Sammy Pahlsson did for Brian Burke's Cup-winning club in Anaheim in 2007.
Komarov played for Moscow Dynamo the last two years and apparently also carries a Russian passport. He believes he can make more money playing in the KHL than under an NHL entry-level deal, and now will become a free agent this summer.
The Leafs first round pick acquired from Philadelphia in the Kris Versteeg deal, meanwhile, is now slotted in at No. 25. The pick acquired from Boston depends on how the B's finish.
Finally, hearing whispers that negotiations between Atlanta and Winnipeg over the future of the Thrashers may be slowed by the difficulty in reaching a sale price. The team is valued at about $60 million by industry analysts, and the Winnipeg group backed by Mark Chipman and David Thomson may be wondering why they are being asked to pay $160 million or more.
Part of that is an NHL relocation fee, to which Chipman and Thomson might wonder why they should have to pay such a cost given that the Thrashers can't stay in Atlanta and have nowhere else to go but Winnipeg. Short of folding the Thrashers, which in many ways would be the most sensible thing to do, the NHL has to do business with Winnipeg, which should give Chipman and Thomson useful leverage.