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Kadri, Franson and Frattin: Frustrated guys?

Scrivens did everything we could ask of him in a Leaf win in Columbus.  There's no doubt the Leafs have been a bit fortunate to run into goaltenders of late who are not on the top of their game, but things tend to even out over the course of an 82-game schedule.

If you saw the game you know the details, and while Columbus is struggling, a win is a win, as the pundits often say.  And the Leafs won.

Komisarek was plus 3, as he was the night before.  While not flawless, his game has stabilized to the point where Wilson is giving him significant minutes again.


It would be difficult to find Leaf fans who don’t feel the team has better depth across the roster than the organization has had in quite some time.  That seems pretty obvious.

Depth alone doesn’t equal success in the standings, of course, but it should help when the inevitable injuries start to pile up over the course of a long NHL season.

We’ve already seen Toronto have to deal with Reimer out for longer than hoped/expected, along with Armstrong’s injury which has kind of slid under the radar. That said, that is pretty modest stuff to deal with compared to what some other teams faced last season, for example, when injuries devastated a number of NHL rosters.

From an organizational standpoint—and certainly as a fan—this is what you want to see:  enough quality throughout the system to ensure that, if and when those situations arise, you can plug “the next guy up” into that particular hole.  It doesn’t always mean that the incoming player will do everything you want or need, but they can do at least an adequate job at the NHL level.

The flip side of that relative “abundance of riches” is that, as a roster becomes more competitive, there are fewer slots for guys who aren’t established stars, veterans or don’t hold down a big, one-way contract.

Even if Tim Connolly was slumping, he’s not going anywhere, eh? Or I should say, he’s at least not going to be replaced by a kid just out of the minors as the veteran watches from upstairs.

But there are guys who are in tough as a result of this sudden influx (it’s not really sudden, of course; Burke has been working toward this for three years now…) of talent/depth.  Three names that jump to mind:  Kadri, Franson and Frattin.

I’m thinking Frattin is OK, though no doubt disappointed at being returned this week to the Marlies.  It sounds like the Leaf brass liked a lot of what they saw in his early-season stint with the big club.  What they didn’t see, though, was offensive production and they may genuinely feel he will relax and regain his scoring eye with the Marlies.  (As an aside, I didn’t like the fact that, as I posted here this past April, that he skipped the AHL last spring to play in the season finale for the big club while some deserving Marlies—like Ryan Hamilton who had played hard all season long- missed their chance.  It was very different from when Timmy Brent got the same reward the year before.  Brent had earned the call-up with his dedicated play for the Marlies.)

Regardless, given that this young man is no “kid” (soon to turn 24) and went right from college to the Leafs and subsequently made the team again this fall, I’m guessing there is some frustration there.  You can’t help but start to feel a bit “entitled” when you make the big team right away after signing your first contract and you suddenly are sent to the minors—the place Frattin probably should have started.

My guess is he will play hard in the AHL and come back a better, more relaxed and confident player.

For his part, Franson, also 24, is a victim of a number of things—his own less than stellar play (in not only the pre-season but in his sporadic appearances so far in the regular-season), his public comments, Gardiner’s sudden emergence and the fact that fellow defenseman Luke Schenn just signed a huge long-term contract.

As I’ve noted here before, we have no idea what Franson really is, because he has not truly been given an opportunity to make things happen here.  You can’t just play a game here and there, especially under the circumstances where the coach is already ticked at you, and be expected to play front-line defense.  I don’t think many young guys could handle that expectation and deliver big-time right away.

As much as I’ve argued here that the Leafs need plenty of blue line depth (and they do), they are almost comfortably  “11-deep” with Aulie, Lashoff, Holzer and Finger at the ready.  So if someone has to go, I’m guessing it will be the unhappy guy.  Surely there are NHL teams who want a defenseman who played in the playoffs with Shea Weber just a few months ago and can shoot the puck.  How much the Leafs swould get in return, I don’t know, but it would be another asset.

Kadri is the most peculiar case of all, however. Maybe in most other hockey markets this would not be a “story”, but here, well, it is.  Kadri is no longer 18.  He’s 21, a former high first-round pick who, by all public accounts, has done everything the organization has asked him to do.  Get bigger, stronger, faster.  Work on his defense.  Be confident but not arrogant.  Be responsible.  Be a good citizen.

Yet, from my perspective, the whole Kadri thing has been a mess from the get-go and very poorly handled by the organization.  He came in with big expectations and while management won’t acknowledge it, that was  not just coming from the fans.  Burke and Wilson spent plenty of time lauding Kadri publicly, and building him up.  Each training camp, everyone was waiting for Kadri to “improve”.  And each fall he did get better than the year before.

When he does play, we all see the moves, the natural talent.  Yet, he has been bounced like a yo-yo, despite suggestions from the top that he has indeed improved his overall game. Back to junior, back and forth to the Marlies last season (where, in my view, as I stated here, he should have spent the majority of the season uninterrupted).  But, as we all remember, they yanked him back up last fall when the team hit a scoring drought- so back he came to the Leafs, then down again.

When he came up last year it was to be a first-line center.  Then he was suddenly a winger again, then a third-line guy—and then back with the Marlies.

Then he seemed to make the team this fall out of camp, but an injury set him back.  Once healthy he went down, then back up and now he’s down—again.

If we put ourselves in his shoes, how might we feel?  Would we feel like this organization has our best interests at heart, or rather that it keeps pulling the string away from us every time we get close—you know, kind of changing the rules of the game on the fly?

I’m no apologist for young Kadri.  But I think he can play.  I’ve said here before that I believe his name has been out there in trade talks a number of time and has been offered by the Leafs—if they could get a more established scorer in return.  I could be wrong, but I believe he has been made available.

But that aside, I just wonder what Kadri could do if they just, say, let him play for 20 games without the risk of his being sent down?  How might he perform?  Might he finally start to become the player we all hoped he could/can be?

But right now, how can anyone know?

I’m a lot older than him and I’d be confused, too, if I were in Kadri’s shoes.

So here we are:  three talented young players.  Right now, there is no room at the inn.


  1. I guess the question is: who would you move out, right now, in order to put one of these three in? (Not to mention Armstrong...) None of them have really produced when they're up with the Leafs, though that's unfair to Franson. Is Kadri any better than, say, Lombardi? I haven't seen it.
    But as you say, it's a long season, and everyone's likely to get a chance at some point.
    If it was up to Coach O'Malley, I'd be sitting Schenn for Franson or Aulie, and I'd be thinking about sitting Bozak for Colborne in the not-too-distant future. And I'd be thinking long and hard about Scrivens, who last night played the best game by a Leaf goalie this year, and who really deserves to play against the Bruins. (Although if we play as sloppily as we played last night, it'll be a trial by fire for sure).
    It's going to be difficult for management to keep everyone happy - I guess that's a good problem for us to have!

  2. This is really my kind of Leafs team- finding ways to win, goals coming from all over the place, a whole bunch of kids itching to show what they've got, the past erased with Burke Bleach™, the kind of goaltending that makes you alternate between screams of joy and raised eyebrows. And we the most aggressive captain the Leafs have had in a very long time- a guy who appears to have been born for the job.

  3. When you say "Kadri is not arrogant" I have to wonder about that, to me he has been one of the guys that does not bring a good attitude. He seems to feel that being a 7th pick he would be a Leaf, and to that end he is arrogant. He also called his manager(boss) Burkie and it is my guess that has not endeared him to management as far as attitude goes.

  4. Helmets off to KidK - "Burke Bleach" - perfect!!

  5. "He’s 21, a former high first-round pick who, by all public accounts, has done everything the organization has asked him to do. Get bigger, stronger, faster. Work on his defense"
    Michael is right- he's been short-changed by the organization, but I think at least part of it was done deliberately, to keep building his patience and maturity. All you to do to see how Burke and RW handle immaturity is look at Franson- take your sense of entitlement and go sit in the corner until you're ready to come out. I'm telling you (looking at you, anonymous) that he Kadri's going to be fine and there will come a time when he's ready with no questions or hesitations. RW himself uses the short form for the players all the time- "Grabbo", "Clarkie", "that little bastard"- it's a sign of comfort with each other.

  6. Geund O''s true, who do you move right now? Maybe Dupuis up front, but he's a veteran, too...

    And you are absolutely's a long-time coming in Toronto after the past half-dozen seasons: hard to keep guys happy when you have more guys who can play than roster spots.

    And I agree: KidK has coined a great phrase: "Burke Bleach".

  7. KidK hit it right on the head, this is my kind of Leafs team. Park your egos at the door. If a guy like Crabb had an ego, you think he would be playing right now? This team gives opportunities to guys who deserve it, and are willing to work hard for it. No doubt in my mind Frattin will be a force in the AHL, and will garner a return to the big club. Naz needs to do the same, take the demotion in stride and work as hard as he can to get back up there. Now isn't the time to get complacent if you have dreams of ever being an NHL player.

    I was high on Franson when Burke acquired him. I even liked his, I'll call it confidence, after he was press box bound. But the same goes for Franson. Just because you played in the playoffs last year doesn't mean shit (excuse my french). This business is about what have you done for me lately, and he needs to step it up, mentally, and in game situations. If he isn't willing to buy into that, send him packing, we have 22 other guys on the roster willing to work, I wouldn't lower my expectations for a crybaby.

  8. i hope the plan is to play colborne, kadri and frattin together for 20 games and if they excel, to bring the whole line up to the leafs to form a 3rd line energy kid line a la the ducks getzlaf line from their cup winning year. and to maintain said line for the next 5-10 years.

  9. Very well said, Jack H. Thanks. I think it's hard for someone like Franson who has played in the league at a young age, and with some success. But the Leafs are building a team that will require everyone to hop on board, for sure....

    Anon...interesting that you raise the "Kid Line" notion. We've talked about that here a bit in the past couple of weeks and who knows, it just may comes to pass.

  10. Kadri has received a lot of playing time with the Leafs over the past year and, to be honest, has proved little. Fact is that he isn't physical, he makes at least his share of mistakes and he brings something similar to a lot of other players. I think that he's proven himself more than Colborne as Colborne is probably not going to get a sniff until 2012-13.

    They brought up Crabb and he's scored 2 in 2 games and played, so that was obviously not a bad move.

    I think the fact that we have Dupuis and Armstrong on the team will block a number of worthy of AHL'ers but they'll have to wait their turn.

    We know that there's going to a be a lot of injuries soon - so we'll see Kadri, Franson and Frattin later this season most definitely.

  11. In order for anon's kid line idea to work, there would have to be a massive trade happen, or the biggest single team waiver-clearing of all time.

  12. I think the Leafs made a mistake and over valued Kadri as a # 7 pick. He has skill, but he doesn't have the overall package. I think the Leafs will give up on him and move him in a deal, and he'll end up being a journeyman 2nd or 3rd liner. Not what you look for with a #7 pick.