Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
The NHL Season is quickly approaching, with that in mind we’re going to take a look at who is (likely) to be on the Leafs roster come October 1 in Montreal. Contract numbers via CapGeek.com; Regular Stats via Hockey-reference.com; Nerd stats via behindthenet.ca. For the rest of our Player Previews go here.
Nazem Kadri, No. 43, centre| 6’0″, 185 LBS | 22-years old.
ToT Approved Nicknames:
3 NHL seasons, all with Toronto, 99 career games
A freshly signed 2-year deal worth $2.9-million/season
99 GP 23 Goals 37 Assists 60 Points
48 GP 18 Goals 26 Assists 44 Points
On-ice Corsi -5.37; PDO: 1063
You Oughta Know:
Don Cherry kinda likes the guy
During his first two stints with the Leafs, Nazem Kadri could not get out of Ron Wilson‘s dog house. Over his first two seasons, which combined for 50 games, Kadri only managed 8 goals and 11 assists for a measly 19 points. Despite his young age these troubling totals led many in Leafs nation to start considering Kadri as a bust.
Given the opportunity to hone his game with the Marlies without having to think about being called up to the Leafs during the NHL lockout may have been a blessing in disguise for the young center. When training camp broke to begin the lockout shortened season, Kadri seemed like a whole new player.
Over the 48 game schedule Kadri looked every bit the player that the Maple Leafs expected they would get when they drafted him 7th overall in 2009, as he scored 18 goals and 26 assists while playing just 16:03 per game.
One knock on Kadri was that he faded down the stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs. While some of this could be attributed to fatigue as he had been in the midst of an AHL season when he jumped in the condesned NHL schedule, a part of it was surely regression, as Kadri was clearly a benefactor of lady luck with his 1063 PDO.
What to Expect:
Is Nazem Kadri the player the Leafs say in last years lockout shortened season, or was his success an anomaly of a weird season in which a lot of strange things happened? While it is possible that Kadri will regress to that player that looked overmatched in his first two seasons with the Leafs, I believe that he has taken his game to the next level.
He certainly will not be that player that looked every bit of an MVP candidate through the first 30 games or so of last season, but he will continue to be an effective centre on one of the Maple Leafs top 2 lines. The creativity and skill he brings to the ice make him the Leafs most dynamic centre, and with Mikhail Grabovski out of the picture, I feel confident that Kadri’s role will increase.
With an increased role Kadri will not only see more minutes, but will likely be targeted by the opposition as one of the Leafs that needs to be “shut down”. Kadri will likely start the season skating on the Leafs second line with David Clarkson and Joffrey Lupul. With skill like that on his flanks Kadri will have to no excuses not to perform, I’m going to pencil him in for somewhere around 25 goals and 40 assists for a solid 60 points.
If Kadri can rise to the occasion and continue to produce, the Leafs will have no choice but to really open up their wallets when his 2-year bridge contract expires.