Will the Leafs buy out Komisarek?

Komisarek, the whipping post of seasons past, has played only four games and simply can’t bust his way into the lineup. Liles was scratched Monday against the Panthers to make room for Carl Gunnarson, back from hip problems. The former Colorado defenceman played fairly well early in the season, but his prowess in the offensive zone generally isn’t matched in the defensive zone, something that may not fit easily with defensive-minded head coach Randy Carlyle.

Komisarek has one more year left at $4.5 million. He may be bought out this summer. Liles has three more years left at $3.875 million, not an onerous salary but one not moved easily, either.

Both could return to active duty at some point, even soon, so this is not necessarily the conclusion to their careers as valued Leafs.

But while there should be no joy simply because Komisarek and Liles are having to deal with the embarrassment of not being used, Leaf fans may wish to look at this as a positive in this way; no longer do contracts decide who plays in Toronto.

And don’t think this doesn’t matter.

If you want to know why the Leafs, winners of six of their past seven, look a little hungrier this season, part of it may be because players are being pushed at every position, and few have the luxury of feeling safe.