Toronto Maple Leafs: 10 Storylines Heading Into the Draft and Offseason

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6. Does Nazem Kadri Get a Long-Term Deal?

Mar 31, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri (43) turns up ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Tampa Bay 3-1. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Leafs dodged a big bullet when they signed Nazem Kadri to a bridge contract, which was a two year $5.8 million deal. After a breakout season in 2012-13, when he scored 44 points in 48 games, many were wondering if Kadri was ready to push for the number one job. After two seasons where he scored 50 points in 78 games and then 39 in 73, it looks like the Leafs made the right choice in giving him a short term deal.

Dec 4, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri (43) celebrates his shorthanded goal in the second period against the New Jersey Devils at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

After a year where Kadri made some improvements in his two-way game, there is still not enough to warrant a big commitment from the Leafs. They rolled the dice with Gardiner and while it is too early to say whether that was the right decision, the Leafs need to be reasonable with their expectations for Kadri. My issue with Kadri is not the way he plays. He is a talented player, but he lacks maturity. It started with the comparison he made to John Tavares. Tavares made the 2014 Olympic Gold Medal team and has a career points per game of 0.93 while Kadri has a career ppg of 0.61.

The Leafs suspended Kadri two games last season for missing a team meeting and other reasons according to Brendan Shanahan. He also missed four games for an illegal check to the head late in the season. It is easy to get a talented player to conduct himself as a professional, but with a talent like Kadri, it will be important for Babcock to try and get that balance. If not, then Kadri’s future will not be with the Leafs, so expect a short-term deal, in order for management to have more time to assess his future.