The 2018-19 season was the first of Leo Komarov’s four-year contract with the New York Islanders. Komarov was signed to fill a third or fourth-line checking role and he did exactly that.
Komarov wasn’t signed by the Islanders in hopes that he would magically become a player that could surpass 30 points, which he has only done twice in his six-year career.
He was signed by the Islanders to be a defensive-minded forward that could help reinvent a team that gave up the most goals during the prior season.
Komarov did just that.
Playing in every game this season, “Uncle Leo” had an average time-on-ice (ATOI) of just 13:53 – the lowest of his career. However, most of this time was spent on the Isles penalty kill.
To go with being a vital part of the Islanders PK, Komarov was put out late in games when the game was close, to shut down any last-minute push by the opposition. Komarov finished the season with an 18 +/-.
However, just like how it was expected, Komarov didn’t produce much offensively. He finished the season with just 26 points (six goals and 20 assists). Most of these points came at home, as Komarov was a much different player home compared to when he played on the road.
Season Review – In Enemy Territory
“Uncle Leo” was a much different player away from Long Island than he was on Long Island. Komarov didn’t produce as much offensively on the road and was as great on the defensive side of the game.
Offensively, Komarov only produced eight points (four goals and four assists) when he was on the away team. This is surprising as his shooting percentage (SH%) was significantly higher (11.8%) on the road.
Defensively, Komarov was still good but not as good as he was at home. Komarov’s +/- was slightly lower when he was away and he also had double the penalty minutes.
Overall, Komarov still did what he had to when the Isles were on the road but he just wasn’t as good and effective.
Season Review – Home Ice Advantage
At home, Komarov’s offensive production was much improved. Overall, he contributed 18 points (two goals and 16 assists) on the Island. His lower goal total is not surprising considering his atrocious SH% of 4.5%, however, his additional 14 assists are quite intriguing.
On the defensive side of the game, Komarov was also slightly better at home. His away +/- of 7 was topped by a +/- of 11 on home ice. Additionally, Komarov’s “veteran penalties” were cut in half at home, with only 14 penalty minutes at home to 28 on the road.
Leo Komarov did what he was asked to do this season, play defensive-minded hockey. He may have not produced much offensively, but he was solid on the defensive side of the game.
Although he was just a bottom-six checking forward, he established himself as an integral part of the Isles PK and was put in late in games when the team was winning by a goal or two to shut down the opposition.
However, Komarov had a knack for taking untimely penalties late in games when the Isles were trailing by a goal when the team was making a last-minute push or when the team was gaining momentum.
At home and on the road, Leo was a significantly different player when it came to offensive production as he had significantly more assists.
Due to these elements of Komarov’s game, he gets a C grade.
Hopefully, Komarov can continue his solid play as a defensive forward next season and maybe contribute a little more offensively, especially on the road.
But because he only did what he was asked and not much of anything else, I’m gonna stick with an old college saying and give “Uncle Leo” a C, because “C’s get degrees,” as Komarov is capable of doing more but he didn’t and that’s alright for the Islanders.