Toronto Maple Leafs: Why the Nazem Kadri trade for Tyson Barrie still makes sense

Tyson Barrie #94 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the New York Islanders at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Tyson Barrie #94 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the New York Islanders at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs will play Nazem Kadri for the first time since trading him for Tyson Barrie and it’s a move the team shouldn’t regret doing.

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas made many moves this past off-season and none were bigger than trade sending Nazem Kadri, Calle Rosen and a 2020 third-round pick for Tyson Barrie, Alexander Kerfoot and a 2020 sixth-round draft pick.

It was a move that many weren’t expecting and there were certainly a lot of mixed reactions at the time. Kadri spent the first 10 years of his career in Toronto and seemed to find his stride when Mike Babcock was the head coach and his contract was the team’s best asset considering he was considered a bargain at his salary and position.

Unfortunately, after seeing his production dip after being moved down to the third line and getting suspended for a second-straight time against the Boston Bruins in the playoffs, it was tough to trust him to be dependable when the team needed him the most.

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With the team deciding to let Jake Gardiner walk in free agency, Dubas made a couple of calls in search of an adequate defenceman to play on the right side and jumped at the chance for Barrie. Sure, there was the rumour that Kadri turned down a trade to go to the Calgary Flames but you can’t fixate on what could have been.

Instead, the Leafs got a player who was coming off a career-high 59 points in 78 games and fit with Dubas’ ideal player that can drive possession with his skill. The problem was that Babcock didn’t really use him to his strengths and people were wondering if the team made a mistake trading for him.

Well some of that doubt should have been eased when the 28-year-old was given some open space to walk down from the blue line and wire an absolute missile for his first goal of the season. This was the Barrie Dubas probably envisioned when he made that trade on July 1 and hopefully, Sheldon Keefe can coach to Barrie’s strengths.

This is not to say that the Leafs couldn’t use a player like Kadri right now but you can’t ignore the problem the Leafs would have had if they couldn’t find a right-handed defenceman. It also helped that they got Kerfoot as well and while he got off to a hot start to the season, he has slowed down a bit.

Kadri is on pace to scored 26 goals and 56 points this season while averaging 17:41 TOI and has won 56.5 per cent of his faceoffs. Those are respectable numbers as a number two centreman behind Nathan MacKinnon but that wouldn’t be the case if he was a third-line centre in Toronto.

Given the position both team’s were in at the time and the needs they had, it’s hard to criticize this trade. It’s tough to make the case that it has or hasn’t worked out for both sides yet considering the real results will be measured in the post-season which both teams believe they have a legitimate chance.

Obviously, the Leafs are trying to work their way back after a tough week where Babcock was fired and the Avs have been flourishing but there are still a lot of games to be played and more of an opportunity for both players to show their new teams why they made the right choice.

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What do you think about the Kadri-Barrie? Would you still pull the trigger on it? Let us know in the comments below.