Toronto Maple Leafs: Looking at the impact of Nazem Kadri’s suspension

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 12: Nazem Kadri
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 12: Nazem Kadri /

The NHL announced Nazem Kadri has been suspended for three games for his hit on Tommy Wingels, leaving the Toronto Maple Leafs with a tough challenge ahead.

There was no telling how serious the league would come down on Nazem Kadri for his hit on Tommy Wingels and now the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves in a tough uphill battle.

The NHL Department of Player’s Safety suspended the Leafs’ centre for three games, for what they deem to be a reckless play regardless of whether Wingels made contact to Mitch Marner‘s head.

In their key points, the NHL took into account the 27-year-old’s prior suspension history when making the decision. It is hard to disagree with the suspension given Kadri’s intent to go after Wingels, who was in a vulnerable position.

So now that puts the Leafs without their number two centre for the next three games which is never easy for any team to try to deal with. Now Mike Babcock has to go to the drawing board in order to make the appropriate adjustments.

As Daniel Goffenberg of Sportsnet writes, the Leafs do have some options to consider, which includes moving either Patrick Marleau or William Nylander to centre. Another option would be to insert Dominic Moore and shuffle Tomas Plekanec up.

This is how Babcock ran his lines at practice.

More from Tip of the Tower

Considering how Marleau played at centre when Auston Matthews was out of the lineup, it should come as no surprise that he is who Babcock is replacing Kadri with.

This now puts more pressure on Matthews, Tyler Bozak and Plekanec to fill the void left by Kadri. This also allows Andreas Johnsson to get into the lineup which will please some fans, albeit coming at a cost.

If the Leafs can somehow steal Game 2, it makes things easier for Babcock since he can dictate the matchup on home ice, but on the road that is where it gets challenging.

Can Toronto overcome this? It certainly is possible, but they know that things will have to change especially on the penalty kill and at even strength, which had a tough time against Boston.

Next: Leafs overwhelmed by the Bruins in Game 1

What do you think about the Kadri suspension? Was it too much, or the right number of games and how do the Leafs adjust during his absence? Let us know in the comments below.