First Impressions: Mike Komisarek signing

The Hurricanes made another move to address their defense this off-season by signing Mike Komisarek to a one-year deal at $700k. Komisarek is a ten-year veteran who at the very least gives the Hurricanes some defensive depth and more of a physical presence on their blue-line. He was a solid shutdown defenseman with Montreal for most of his career, but his play dropped off quite a bit after joining the Toronto Maple Leafs in the summer of 2008-09. Komisarek signed a big four-year, $22.5 mil. contract that year and was mostly a disappointment. He ended up being buried in the AHL this season and had the final year of his contract bought out.

Despite his recent struggles, Carolina decided to take a chance on Komisarek by signing him to a low-risk contract with the hope that he can turn his career around. Given that he was a healthy scratch in the AHL playoffs, I'm not sure what the odds are of that happening but a change of scenery can help some players. The Hurricanes have had success with some other reclamation projects from Toronto (Tlusty, Harrison), so there are worse ways to spend money than taking a chance on Komisarek.

Komisarek is also the "type" of defenseman that the team wants to add more of, as they have stated that they want to get bigger and add another player who can kill penalties. Komisarek can do both of those and he can also help the Hurricanes be a stronger physical team, as well. Taking a chance on him at less than $1 mil. is a much safer bet than giving long-term money to an aging defenseman like Andrew Ference, who plays a similar game to Komisarek.

The only thing that turns me away from this move is that Komisarek has not been a regular NHL player in over a year and could not earn a roster spot on one of the worst defensive teams in the league last year. The Hurricanes aren't exactly a good defensive team either, so I have my doubts that Komisarek will turn it around in Raleigh. Although, some have said that he might thrive from playing in a smaller market where his play is less scrutinized. The expectations for him are also lower, as he is expected to be a third-pairing defenseman and penalty kill specialist rather than a stud shutdown defenseman like he was perceived to be a few years ago. How much that affects his play remains to be seen, but some players do benefit from a change in scenery. Let's see if Komisarek is one of them. 

All in all, taking on Komisarek for one year is not a bad gamble for the Hurricanes. He fills a need and gives depth to a blue-line corps that really needs it. If he is serviceable as a third-pairing defenseman and penalty kill specialist then this deal is a win for the Hurricanes. That's the most you should expect for someone making $700k. The worst case scenario is for Komisarek's play to not improve at all from the last couple of years and if that happens, the Canes can replace him with someone like Brett Bellemore or Ryan Murphy. He has a no-movement clause, so they can't bury him in the AHL but scratching him shouldn't be that big of a deal. Low-risk moves are the best option for the Canes right now with their cap situation and this was a decent one to take.

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