Toronto Maple Leafs: 10 Storylines to Follow This Seasons

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Nov 20, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri (43) celebrates his 3rd period tying goal against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Nazem Kadri and his Struggles Offensively

There has been a noticeable change about Kadri’s game this season. While he is not putting up the offensive numbers that many were expecting, he has not been invisible on the ice. He is playing on the team’s top line consistently for the first time in his career. He has 87 shots on goal this season which is in the top 10 among players in the NHL, however his shooting percentage of 2.7% is not. His faceoff numbers are much better this season at 51.5% and his ability to draw penalties are things that have not been overlooked. Halfway into November Babcock said that Kadri was the Leafs best forward this season 

"“This is my two cents on Naz. He has been, in my opinion, the best forward on our team. He competes every night. He is in on all the chances, he generates a ton. He is a way better player than I expected. In the 100-mile journey, he is on Mile 25. He is going to get way better as long as he competes. If he wants to be good, he is going to be good. It’s up to him.”"

Babcock is not the only one that has shown his admiration for Kadri’s play this season. Lamoriello is also in the same boat as his head coach.

"“His competitiveness and not getting frustrated over this little drought he’s going through, this will pass,” Lamoriello said. “He has stuck with the game and has done little things and subtle things to have success in what he’s doing. I’ve been very impressed with him in every way. Hopefully he continues to do this and the end results will take care of itself as far as the goals.”"

It’s hard to believe that Kadri does not have better offensive numbers, but the fact that he has not been totally invisible when he is on the ice is important. Is he taking the best shots possible, probably not. But at some point if he keeps working he will start to put up the offensive numbers. However, he needs to make sure that he keeps putting in a consistent effort because that is what Babcock has been most pleased with.

This is the benefit of a rebuild because the Leafs can afford to be patient with Kadri, he is still young and worth keeping around but at some point a decision will need to be made on him and hopefully that decision will become easier with more offensive numbers to look at.

Next: The Emergence of Morgan Rielly