Nazem Kadri is making positive progress in his recovery from a concussion, but the Toronto Maple Leafs still do not know when he will return to action.
When the Toronto Maple Leafs faced the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night, it represented the sixth game Nazem Kadri had missed since sustaining a concussion on Feb. 19. How much he is missed depends on your perception.
On the one hand, the Leafs have won four of the six games they’ve played without Kadri. In the process they have had little issue scoring, with 25 goals.
On the other hand, consider that three of the wins have included one against the lowly Edmonton Oilers and a couple against the struggling Buffalo Sabres. Throw in the embarrassing 6-1 loss to the New York Islanders and the recent run of form doesn’t look nearly as impressive.
Regardless of your perspective, there is no denying the Leafs are a better team when Kadri is in the lineup. In this respect, when can fans expect him to return to action?
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There was some good news on Saturday, when the 28-year-old was on the ice to take part in the morning skate. However, it is worth adding that he wasn’t a full participant in practice.
This alludes to how the NHL — and indeed all professional sports leagues — are now taking head injuries more seriously. Yes, even more still needs to be done, but at least steps are being taken in the right direction.
Coach Mike Babcock discussed Kadri’s recovery following practice. As reported by Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star, Babcock said:
"“Obviously, our medical staff has to do a good job with those guys and keep them out as long as they’re supposed to be out. I think it’s obviously good for him to be out there, just morale-wise. It looks like he’s going in the right direction.“I didn’t talk to the coaches since he’s been out, just to see what kind of skate they were able to give him and what he was able to handle. (We’ll) still monitor that and see, and then we’ll see how hard we can push him. I don’t know when he’s ready.”"
As frustrating as that last sentence might be for fans to read, it’s also the right response. It proves that the Leafs’ medical team are taking an extremely cautious approach with Kadri’s concussion and not looking to rush him back.
You imagine this includes making sure the player himself doesn’t attempt to return to action too quickly. The 2009 seventh overall draft pick hasn’t missed many games through injury, since entering the NHL.
At the end of the day, the Leafs need a fully healthy Kadri on the ice, especially with the playoffs fast approaching. While his production is projected to be down on the two previous seasons, he’s still an extremely valuable member of the roster.
How would you summarise Kadri’s play so far this season for the Toronto Maple Leafs? How important do you believe he is to the team? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.