Islanders’ Komarov Settling in on Fourth Line

Leo Komarov has definitely had an interesting career with the New York Islanders.

When he was signed prior to the 2018-19 season, the Islanders probably expected him to bring a bit more offense to the team. He has been a player who scored 19 goals in a season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but has only three goals this season.

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However, he seems to have finally found himself in a comfortable position on the fourth line after the injury to Cal Clutterbuck. Despite playing on the middle lines through much of his time with New York, Komarov was never able to generate much chemistry with anybody and found himself in the press box much more than he would like. Fans will always point out the annual salary of $4 million, but head coach Barry Trotz insists he will play the best players that give his team a chance to win.

“You need those guys like Leo, who maybe don’t get a lot of fan fair around the league, Trotz said. “You look at their sexy stats and they’re not that sexy, but they help you win games.”


Fourth Line

One of the problems for the Islanders, when everyone is healthy, is that they have four to five players who can fill a role on the fourth line. Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas, and Clutterbuck have established themselves as one of the best fourth lines in hockey, leaving Komarov and Ross Johnston playing a different type of game on the third line and not succeeding. (from ‘The backhanded compliment that is Isles’ best 4th line in NHL,’ New York Post, 05/05/2016)

Leo Komarov New York Islanders
Leo Komarov, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Despite his size, Komarov plays as if he was 6-foot-4, and will not back down to any player in the league. While he rarely fights, he is one of the best agitators in the league and exemplifies what good fourth line players do. 

He is also one of the team’s best penalty killers. With all the injuries they’ve suffered, Komarov emerges as one of the club’s most important players while down a man. His ability to win faceoffs also comes in handy with the Isles’ depth at the center position being very weak – it allows him to kill penalties with someone like Martin.

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While the Islanders hope to have Cizikas back in the next month, it will be very interesting to see what Trotz does when everyone is healthy. General manager Lou Lamoriello is likely to shop around for a rental, whose playing time may come at the expense of Komarov. As long as he continues to play hard every night and kill penalties, it won’t be easy to take Komarov out of the lineup. 

Memorable Moments with Islanders

The highlight of Komarov’s career thus far with the Islanders was his playoff goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins. New York led 2-1 in Game 3 and Komarov finished off a terrific pass from Cizikas to give the Islanders a 3-1 lead in a series they would eventually win in four games

Komarov picked up a milestone on Tuesday night with his 100 career assists. It took the veteran 445 games to accomplish the feat. While he has played terrific of late, he also scored two goals this week which was double his season total. In the Islanders’ wild 8-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings, Komarov scored after a crazy bounce into the Zamboni corner.

Komarov also has established himself well with the younger players. Uncle Leo, as he is called by many fans, hopefully can continue to play his game and help the Islanders make a push toward the top of the Metropolitan Division. His run last year with the Islanders was the first time he has made it into the second round of the playoffs in his career.

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