I’m certainly no “cap-ologist”. But I do wonder if the Leafs are in a position prior to the opening of the regular season next month to make a move or two that would alleviate another team’s cap pain.
What I’m thinking is that Burke and company may still be looking for a little more security up the middle of his forward lines. We assume Connolly will be the trigger-man on the first line (Kessel and Lupul?) and the Gabovski will continue to hold court on the next unit with Kulemin and MacArthur.
Beyond that we know we have a bit of a mad scramble on the forward lines, depending on the health of someone like Lombardi and where youngsters like Colborne and Frattin do or don’t fit.
Now, what do I mean by additional security up the middle?
Well, we have plenty of guys who can play the position up front. I just wonder if the Leafs want a bit more than what they have. Maybe they’re perfectly happy, and if so, hey, I’m sure most fans would be satisfied to run for a while with what we’ve already got., given the team's seeming improvement in goal and on the blueline.
Which brings me to Nazem Kadri. Kadri, if I’m not mistaken, is pretty much a life-long center. That’s where I’d like to see him play. This wing experiment is only something that seems to have emerged over the course of last season, with the Leafs having plenty of bodies in the middle and Kadri maybe not quite ready for prime time on the first two lines.
Is he now?
Part of the fun of training camp will be watching his development. It’s not a question of “if” he makes the team this time (as it was the last two years) but rather where exactly he fits.
So why would I even talk about the Leafs dealing their young—and very recent—number 1 draft choice, the first number-one of Burke’s tenure here?
I posted before the draft on this subject. And I still can’t help but think that, while the Leafs like Kadri and see him as someone who can be a really good NHL’er, they also know this is a young team. And while they will be patient with their ongoing roster fine-tuning, I’m also thinking they want to be good right now. And to get to where they want to go a bit more quickly, they may have to move someone who may be very good down the road but would also actually bring something back in return that could help a lot right now.
And that’s where I keep thinking Nadri could fit.
Am I suggesting they should or will deal him? No. I’m simply saying we shouldn’t be shocked if somewhere along the way, the Leafs, in a bid to get better soon, may move a young talent like Kadri to take on a more established player (and the accompanying higher salary).
I have no notion of who they would go after. It’s always easy to throw names out there but we don’t know what other GM’s are thinking. Again, the Leafs may be perfectly happy with where they are at, with the young roster they have.
If they start the season really well, they may just roll on. But if there are any hiccups, I think this kind of move is very much on the table—while Kadri’s value is still high.