With the absence of Anders Lee from the New York Islanders lineup, Barry Trotz has had a big gap to fill. For the first few games, youngster Kieffer Bellows lined up on the top-line where he scored three goals. But over the last two games, veteran grinder Leo Komarov has been up with Barzal and Eberle.
When asked what he needs to do as a member of the top line, Leo simply said: “Just trying to keep it simple. I know what my job is. I just try to stay out of the way.”
That’s not what you want to hear from what is essentially a top-line player.
Leo Komarov doesn’t belong on the New York Islanders top line
I understand that Leo isn’t playing top-line minutes per se. Over his two games with Barzal and Eberle he’s played 14:19 and 12:09 of total ice time. But when 13 and 7 jump over the boards number 47 isn’t too far behind.
And I know, Islanders fans shouldn’t expect much from Leo on the top line. He’s been a 20 point player over the last few years. So it’s no surprise that he’s got no points and a single shot on the net over those two games on the top line.
But to say “I’m going to stay out of the way” just isn’t acceptable. And I know, he means to say “I’m going to let Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle do all the driving”, but the Islanders don’t need a passenger (who does?), they need another driver on that line.
Leo is sticking to his word of staying out of the way. On a few occasions now he’s been very much out of the way. There’s a specific zone entry in his first game where Barzal attempts to push the puck to the left-winger along the board as he crosses the offensive blue line. Except there was no winger there. Leo isn’t anywhere near where he should be.
Two days later Leo jettisons out of the O-Zone as his line finds themselves in a perfect goal-scoring position.
That just can’t happen. The fact that Leo picked up only 12 minutes of ice-time in the last game may signal that Barry Trotz is about to make a change. It would be a welcomed change. Because while Leo is a good penalty killer, he is in no way a top-line player in today’s NHL. Even he knows it.