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Does trading Kadri give the Leafs options?

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.


  1. Why get better now? Why not be better down the road. There's an experiment that hasn't been tried. The leafs have consistently traded away the future to be better now and where has that go them. Patience leaf nation! Being better now just means more of the same mediocrity down the road.

  2. I agree with the first comment. The notion you've presented here falls in line with the same bullshit we have seen for years. I want to see Kadri develop. He has dangles, no one else on the Leafs roster (except for Grabo) has close to the hands Kadri does. The kid is just maturing slower than we all expected, and that is no problem, because when he blooms, as a stronger, faster, more confident player at the NHL level, I will be so glad he is a Leaf.

  3. I think the Leafs can't really loose either way on this one. If they keep Kadri and he develops like everyone expects he will, they have themselves an excellent number two centerman at the worst. However, if they trade him and maybe one of the surplus defensemen (Schenn, Gunnarson) they will get very, very good value coming back.

    The reason I say they can't loose is because this is not the Leafs of old, where they are sacraficing youth for washed up veterans to try and complement a vetran team. This team is full of good young players with decent upsides. There are legitamate good players on the farm team (no superstars maybe, but lots of decent talent). They are a decent team (not quite good enough to make the playoffs this year).

    If they keep Kadri, I think they make it next year for sure. If they deal him and get the return I think they could, they could make it this year and actually do some damage in the playoffs. Either way is fine with me.

  4. Thanks for the comment, Wilbur. I think that is the partly point I was hoping to make in my column. I'm not suggesting they should deal Kadri, who has plenty of upside. But in the same breath, I think you said it well: this would not be the Leafs trading one of their only prospects for a guy at the end of the road, as they have sometimes done in the past. It would be trading a young player when they already have lots of youth in the system and on the big team. And, importantly, if they indeed received good value back, I don't think too many people would complain about losing Kadri...

  5. Wilbur's points are pretty good, with the exception that isn't Kadri exactly, and I mean exactly, what we have the most need of right now? And we paid nada to get him. Barring a trade where we receive more back than his high value, what's the point?
    Really, really not interested in a "get to the playoffs no matter what" approach. Screw that. I want to dominate the division for years to come.

  6. Kadri hasn't exclusively been a winger throughout his hockey career. In junior he often played wing and if he does develop into a 3 zone capable center it won't be with the Leafs and wouldn't be until he matures over the next few years.

    I don't believe Kadri is a lock to make the big club this year as he likely is not ready to consistently contribute as a top 6 forward. If he can't prove to be a top 6 forward for the big club out of camp, there's still a lot for him to learn and refine in the minors while getting more minutes and more important minutes.

    In the minors he'll be depended on to create offense while being held fully accountable for his defensive commitments. The AHL would help Kadri mature his offensive game as there are still a lot of holes in it. I do hope however that he has done all the work needed over this past summer and will prove himself truly NHL ready.

    I have no qualms about trading Kadri, though I wouldn't do so to acquire an asset any older than 28. Said asset would also have to be under contract or at least controllable for 2+ years. For now I don't mind taking the patient approach and allowing him to develop in the Leafs organization. He has a good ceiling that we can afford to wait for him to reach.