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Where do you lean on the Kadri meter?

You know how I often start by saying “I’ll be brief” and then I’m anything but?  (Hey, writer’s prerogative, I suppose.  Sometimes my intentions are good, but once I start on a topic, it just feels like there is so much to say…) Well today will be different.  Really.

Considering the very real possibility that neither of Cody Franson or Nazem Kadri will have a contract signed by the time training camp starts next weekend, I am posing a very straightforward (I was going to say simple, but one could argue there is a lot of nuance in this debate) question for you to consider and respond to.  And the question is this:  where are you on the Kadri meter? As in, which way are you tilting, feelings wise, as this contractual hassle drags on?

Here’s what I mean:  are you starting to get just a tad annoyed that a young person who has played barely a hundred NHL games wants to be a multi-millionaire already and has been so outspoken about his demands?  Or are you among those who believe he has every right to push the Leafs and Dave Nonis to the wall because he’s a good young player and “deserves to be paid”—regardless of the cap crunch the Leafs would face if both he and fellow hold-out Cody Franson fought for every last cent they could squeeze out of MLSE?

Kadri has had plenty to say already this summer, though he has recently(supposedly) adopted a posture of silence. (Hey, I’m all for that.)  The Leaf brass, via Dave Poulin, provided their perspective on Tuesday.  Not surprisingly, their claim is this isn’t about cap constraints, it’s simply about paying a young player what he’s worth—in Kadri’s case, based on a very small sample size of NHL play.

Of course Kadri says his demands are "reasonable".  Predictably, the Leafs say they have made a very fair offer.

This is starting to feel long in the tooth.

I do have a position (some of you can probably guess what it is) but that’s immaterial for now.  I’d rather hear your perspective on this. I’ll save my energy to reply to any posts that come my way.

Fire away….


For those who only visit here irregularly, I'll post reminders off and on in the weeks ahead about the availability of my new eBook called "The Maple Leafs of My Youth: what being a Leaf fans means to me".

Again, it is only available for now on iPads for those who have access to Apple iBooks/iTunes. But we are working on having the eBook available on other platforms as soon as possible.

In the meantime, those who are interested in buying the book can visit the book page links.  In Canada you can check out a preview here. If you are in the United States, here is the link. (Elsewhere you can search for it by title, I believe.)

The feedback has been tremendously positive and that's been great to hear.  Fortunately, there's a lot that binds us as Leaf fans.


  1. I think Kadri should be signed to a 2 year bridge contract similar to what P.K. Subban signed with Montreal last year. Kadri has not played enough games in the NHL to warrant a big dollar long term contract, and his production tapered off at the end last season. If Kadri wants a long term big money contract he needs to earn it by playing at a high level for a full 82 game season.

    1. Thanks mrj. To your point about Subban, as good as Kadri was through most of this past season, I sense most hockey people would say Subban was much further along the NHL impact curve than Kadri at the end of their respective entry-level contracts. (Didn't Subban play two full years in the NHL before he became a restricted free-agent? Wasn't he named to the "All-Rookie" team?)

  2. I feel like we are beating a dead horse on this one. Kadri has played 99 games in the NHL and has scored 26 goals and 63 points. He has averaged 15:35 ice time (16:03 last season. He has never played more than 48 games in a season. This body of work screams out for a bridge contract (around 2.5m per year over 2 years). Let him put in a couple of productive years and then talk about a long term contract at the money he desires.

    Nonis has taken a lot of heat about eating up cap space and not (yet) signing Kadri and Franson. I believe that he has the money to sign them to fair and reasonable contracts. Franson's remarks today seem to indicate that he understands his situation. I'm not sure this is true for Kadri. Nonis would be remiss if he does anything but hold firm to his offer.

  3. I agree this subject matter is not exactly aging like a fine wine, Pete Cam. But it does seem to be the central topic of discussion around the team lately, and I was looking to see if people are getting tired of the player (Kadri, in this case) trying to push the envelope too far, or if they actually side with him. Your view is quite clear. Thanks for posting.

  4. "are you starting to get just a tad annoyed that a young person who has played barely a hundred NHL games wants to be a multi-millionaire already and has been so outspoken about his demands?"

    Not really, we know from Eakins and Carlyle that Kadri is super-confident and super competitive...almost cocky. It makes him a threat on the ice and it draws penalties. (He is already among the best in the league at that.) Kadri is just being Kadri.

    "Or are you among those who believe he has every right to push the Leafs and Dave Nonis to the wall because he’s a good young player and “deserves to be paid”—regardless of the cap crunch the Leafs would face.."

    There is this thing called reality. Both he and Franson either come to terms or sits. I don't thing the Leafs trade players to make cap room. They have many guys to audition.

    I think Kadri settles quickly if the Leafs are winning. He will have little leverage. How things go might have lots to do with the play of Bolland, Colborne and D'Amigo.

    Without Kadri, the lines might look like this:

    Lupul Bozak Kessel
    JVR Bolland Clarkson
    Kulemin Colborne McClement or Kulemin McClement D'Amigo
    McLaren or D'Amigo (centered by McClement or Colborne) and Orr

    That lineup doesn't score as many goals as it does with Kadri, but they would be SOB's to play against and should win some games. Bolland and Clarkson on the same line would be murder to play against.

    Bolland had great OHL stats and often played with Kane in Chicago. What does Kadri do if that second line with Bolland clicks?

    I think Colborne might be poised for a breakout. He looked decent in last year's playoffs and he is very underrated as a defensive player. What if he shows that he can center the third or fourth line?

    Jerry D'Amigo brings a good defensive game along with speed on either wing with decent size at 213 lbs.

    If Kadri doesn't settle by training camp and the Leafs are winning in preseason and in the first 10 games, Kadri will settle soon after.

    1. Thanks DP. Players who are "just being themselves" can get away with it when they deliver. I don't like the holdout/sitting out scenario, as that rarely helps anyone (Subban being an exception last season), but I suppose if Kadri returns once the season is underway and plays really well, fans will be supportive.

      I just wonder if that attitude will wear on fans at some point...

  5. I've said my piece on this before, Michael, so I'll content myself with a recap.

    I wouldn't pay him more than $3m/yr because I'm not sure anyone's stats for last year's truncated season are particularly indicative, let alone a young guy having a "break out" that was astonishing, but barely 30 games long.

    BUT, if I was Kadri I'd be looking at the (utterly asinine) contract Bozak is signed to, vociferously making the point that my ceiling is so far above his he probably can't even read by the light bulb hanging from it and so wondering where the Leafs brass get off trying to fob me off for less.

    1. Thanks KiwiLeaf. Not to defend Nonis/the Leafs, because you are right, players always use "comparables" and I guess that's a comparable. The counter-argument might be that Bozak has played several full seasons already, Kadri has not.

      And bottom line, Bozak was a free-agent, Kadri is "only" an RFA. Teams have the hammer so seldom nowadays; they are inclined to use it when they do.

    2. i think kiwileaf is onto something michael... kadri may have been more willing to settle/compromise IF the leafs hadn't already signed several bloated contracts over the past few months. i for one really like kadri and think he's one of the more exciting players on our team (although i may be looking at his situation with biased eyes since he was long heralded as the next great player on the team ever since he was drafted, and this past season he FINALLY showed promise!). anyhow, i hope the scenario gets straightened out soon for a win-win situation on both sides.

    3. I hear what you're saying, Alex, and I guess what other players have signed for may lead Kadri to think he should get more, but I don't tend to look at things that way, As I've said, it's the rare young player that doesn't have to wait their turn. Most "kids" who hit a home run on their second contract have been in the league for three full seasons, or at least two. Thanks Alex.

  6. If rumours are correct that Kadri is looking for a long-term 5-6 million dollar deal, then I think he is deluded. Status quo of entry level contract, bridge contract, then the big pay day has become the norm for a reason. It makes sense! No way can any team with cap restrictions start throwing such money at a "maybe" player who hasn't done enough to price his consistency. Heaven knows enough players have proven themselves and then flopped anyway after the big contract. Kadri needs to take a look at Matt Duchene. He did a lot more from the get-go, but still signed a two-year bridge contract. Then this summer he got his due. I have to note too, he did all this without posturing and arrogance. Face reality, Kadri, and prove yourself!

    1. THis is what I want to know from people, Pete- are they getting tired of Kadri's act? Thanks for chiming in.

  7. There is no questioning the fact that Kadri played well and often was the most offensively dangerous player last year but a 48 games span does not elite make, let alone he has yet completed 82 games season. 99 games over a 3 years span is really not a record that can stand the rationale for a long term contract. Some of the recent signings and probably used as comparable by the Kadri's camp are asinine. I get the rationale behind the argument but the record clearly indicate otherwise.

    All this confidence and cockiness defence is no more than the perception of a spoiled and entitled brat because in reality the record has not proven anything beyond 48 games. Irrelevant of how the Leafs have ended up cap wise, the fact knowing that such demands will likely forced the Leafs to make adjustments not for the betterment of the team clearly show selfishness. Consider this bridge contract as an investment in the team as they have invested in you for the past 4 years. When everyone wins, you win.

    Mr. Kadri,

    Shut up, play your game, and if you believe you are really that good, game in and game out, they would not want you to leave and at that time, you've EARNED everything they will throw at you.

    1. Good to hear from you on this one, Lukas. I wanted to get honest views from readers and you delivered. Thanks.

  8. They sure didn't seem to mind Bernier's small sample size when they signed him. The leafs management are wrought with double standards and contradictions.

    1. If all the speculations are true than they ARE offering Bernier's money and terms.

    2. Hi Jeff- though Bernier has not played a lot of games, I wonder if the Leaf brass looks at his situation differently because he has been around longer?

  9. Hi Michael

    This is just a symptom of the mess that is major league sports. The prices, salaries have become obscene while the quality of the product has declined in a water-downed product (and they talk about expansion when there should be contraction).

    The reality is:

    Fans are in a fantasy world that the owners and players are really attempting to deliver a Stanley Cup. The reality is that the fans pay for these salaries and they will continue to be squeezed as long as they show up. A recent blog indicated that Toronto fans are willing to pay three times as much as Tampa Bay fans.

    Players - In our day, most Canadian kids wanted to play for the Leafs or Canadiens and as a perk, Leaf players were provided with jobs at Conn Smythe's quarry or at a car dealership. Today, it is strictly business. Looking back, having an agent could have been valuable to many of us.

    In today's world, for the the players it is business. They know where they stack up with comparable players and exactly what those players are paid, and their agent is paid to achieve a better return. The cap is not their problem.

    Kadri is probably destined for a bridge contract as suggested by many others, but he certainly has every right to attempt to maximize his return.

    Owners - Ownership of most teams has become corporate and profit is the number one objective. From a player's perspective, there appears to be minimal reason to trust owners. An example is how Philadelphia Flyers treat their long term contracts.

    I place the onus on Nonis. With the availabity of I would have expected him to understand his cap situation. Both Kadri and Franson are keepers, and he needs to figure out how to correct his missteps?

    1. Thanks Ralph (RLMcC). To your first point, I remember back in the '70s my Dad and I laughing at the comment a major league baseball player (a relief pitche)r made. The player was quoted as seeing $700,000 wasn't enough for him for a season, because he had to take care of his family. My Dad never made more than $6,000 a year working every day of his life (and he raised 5 kids), so he no doubt wondered how much a person needed to make ends meet in those days. Players make so much more now in many instances. Two contracts and they can take care of their families for generations to come.

      Owners are untrustworthy and greedy (as are the players), salaries are outlandish, and most fans don't care. Fans seem to identify with the players (and think they are worth what they get because they are elite athletes), though the players certainly don't in any way identify with the fans who help pay their salaries.

      I see the club sticking to its guns on this one, but we'll see how this one plays out. Thanks Ralph.

  10. I see Kadri's point. Yes he's young and unproven. But what right do we have to expect him to take less then he's worth?

    If he signs a friendly deal and blows out a knee or suffers a career ending injury then where does that leave him? And let's stop this garbage about calling him greedy. We pay these people millions of dollars. We're now letting the possibility that he's not going to be at camp influence a perception that he's asking for something over the top.

    This whole topic infuriates me. We should be asking questions like was Nonis correct to prioritise re-signing McLaren and Orr to a combined 1.5 million plus? Was it wise to retain 1 million dollars in salary to get Bernier? Was he right to qualify Mark Fraser knowing he was arbitration eligible and that we likely couldn't walk away from the arbitrators ruling? Were these moves worth potentially souring the relationship this team has with two young players? Was this all worth not starting the season with the teams 3rd d man and best Centre?

    1. Fair questions, Alex. That said, I guess I look at this differently.

      For me, it would not matter what the cap is/was. I would not pay a kid, essentially, who has played 100 NHL games the kind of money he reportedly wants. I just wouldn't.

      If he signs a two-year deal for 5 million overall and is injured seriously, he'll still have more money than most people ever dream of and leave the game at the age of 25 with millions in the bank. Even in that worst-case scenario, he would still have a lifetime to pursue other dreams and goals, just like the rest of us when our dreams of youth go sideways.

      It's not a question of isolating Kadri when it comes to discussing greed in sports. As I've posted here many times, there is plenty of that to go around. He is hardly alone. We can start with the owners of franchises.

      Bottom line, to me: if he plays well over the next year or two, he'll make a boat load of cash. Same with Franson. People will be knocking on their door when they hit free-agency.

      I'm not sure I'm as concerned about the deals Nonis signed with other players. I'm hardly an MLSE apologist and I'm middle of the road when it comes to Nonis. He's trying to build a team and manage a budget. Unless a young player is a Crosby, they generally wait their turn to hit a home run. (Whether some like it or not, teams still seem to want enforcers on the roster, and I guess they have to be paid something...)

      I'm one of those old-timers who think it is a privilege to play for the Maple Leafs. That doesn't mean a good player should sign for millions less to play here, but Toronto doesn't under-pay its players. Far from it. Thanks Alex.

  11. I am also seeing Kadri's posturing as a negative against him and am hoping if he doesn't sign before camp then HE is the one that is traded. He hasn't come close to earning a big payday yet and the Leafs don't need the distraction.

    He must understand there's a big difference between negotiating as a RFA and UFA. So, he can't use a UFA contract as comparable.

    There are two reasons I haven't written him off yet (as ever being worth it)...
    1. He's young. No-one was born wise. He chose a boutique agency that may be giving him bad advice in an effort to make a name for themselves.
    2. He DOES have potential. A less offensively talented player with the energy of youth in a similarly sheltered role could easily have a period of success equal to Kadri's brief NHL resume. I.M.O. he is still untested. There is no reason to conclude he will become a reliable veteran, but he does still have that potential.

    That said, I also wouldn't demand a two-year bridge contract. I would agree to a 1 year deal with a raise, if deserved, next year when the cap increases.
    If I was a GM, I would try to sign any holdout player but would also look to trade him afterwards to discourage similar distractions in the future.
    When your job is being a negotiator you don't want to be seen to roll over. Especially when you have a team 23 guys you need to keep on the same page.

    1. One of the things that you point out that rings true is that Kadri is untested, in a sense. By that I mean only now will he begin to get the kind of attention from opposing teams that "good" players historically get. And that attention will only intensify in the playoffs. So if he thinks he is "proven", well, I'm not quite there yet.

      It would be interesting if Nonis did in fact, as you allude to, deal a young player who was causing a distraction. I'm sure Leafworld would explode (most would be very unhappy), but it would certainly create a stir. That said, I think Nonis is a patient guy and will try to wait this one out before he does anything to upset the apple cart. Thanks Rob.

    2. Well, to keep things in the perspective that I didn't specify...
      Even if wearing a GM hat and pursuing a trade to remove a distraction, I would still require value back to pull the trigger on a trade. I'd try to be calculating, not purely vindictive.
      And circumstances would have to be extreme to trade away a Norris candidate for holding out (Subban)

    3. Understood, Rob. And agreed. (I think we are well past the era of professional teams being petty and getting rid of players simply because they asked for more money. There's a great old Vince Lombardi story from the mid 1960s about his trading away a great center, Jim Ringo, the moment the player had the gall to say he was being represented by an agent. Times, thankfully, have changed.)

  12. I have no problem with either the Leaf’s or Kadri taking a position and holding to it. No matter what Kadri says about the contract he’s after, I don’t consider him to be doing anything but attempting to maximize his salary and I find nothing wrong with that.

    Aiming high and settling in the middle is not a new strategy and is what I expect he is doing.

    The only line I would say he shouldn’t cross is to publicly criticize anyone associated with the team. This leads me to mention that he is one of the few players I can recall that management has publicly criticized through the press and in a quite embarrassing way (I believe Wilson did it a few years ago). Has there been anyone treated that way since Sittler? I am not trying to say his contract demands are in any way related to that public criticism, but I do think Kadri has always behaved as a gentleman.

    Anyway, if he misses much time I will be surprised and expect he will be back with the team within 10 games of the start of the season. As someone else mentioned his absence, if he holds out, may give someone else an opportunity to play we otherwise would not have seen.

  13. To your point about not criticizing anyone associated with the team, this is partly why I like the idea of the player basically not commenting during a contract dispute. Not much good can come from either party speaking out. (I was a bit surprised Nonis and Poulin spoke so publicly...).

    As you say, and I think DP said above, other guys will be licking their chops to get his minutes if he sits. Thanks for posting, Steve.

  14. I guess I'm old-school O'Malley today. With all the talk of Kadri's performance last year - truncated as it was - all I see is promise. And I have doubts there, too. Like the rookie slugger phenom who puts up goose eggs on his second time through the league, once other teams had had a look at Kadri, his numbers dropped and he looked very average. Potential? Sure. Talent? Sure. Results? Not so good. Definitely not worth the kind of money it appears he's asking for, though I note he's denying those reports via Twitter.
    For me, Franson is the more crucial guy to sign. He definitely flourished under Carlyle and, unlike Kadri, he took his game to the next level in the playoffs. Kadri hasn't earned anything more than the kind of contract some have suggested above - 1 year with a raise the second year.

    1. Straight from the hip- I like it, Gerund O'! As I said a couple of weeks ago, sign your contract, prove those of us who think you still need to prove yourself wrong, and you'll make your money soon enough.

  15. Not sure if anyone else saw this, but I saw it on a Blackhawk blog:


    You can see the Hawk rookie tourney game versus the Leafs tomorrow here:"

  16. I think Kadri had been following some sage advice from Dallas Eakins (amongst others) during his 'ups and downs' over his time in the Leaf fold. It would appear that any continuing contract dispute could 'undo' significant portions of goodwill that I feel towards him.

    He is young and has already made more money playing a game than I have in my entire life... just for 'perspective'. I realize that the 'market' allows such things to happen in our society, but even so, he would garner much goodwill should he put the team first and prove himself over a bridge deal of a couple years.

    By the end of that contract, there would be a more legitimate argument for a larger/longer term deal then.

    If we didn't have a reduced cap, I might be willing to see a longer term deal that rises from 2M(+) to much higher (should it reach into UFA years), however, I don't think the present 'landscape' will bear that!

    I hope that the contract comes and that it clearly demonstrates that Kadri's tweets about the speculation proves correct. If not... the 'goodwill' may depart for a season...

    Hope he realizes how many ancillary benefits may be derived from a Don-Cherry-Gilmour-potential-anointing career in Toronto!

    1. Well said, InTimeFor62. Kadri could own Toronto in a few years if he plays well and helps the team toward consistent success. It may be wise to keep that in mind.

      This is just a small blip, but how he handles this will leave a lingering feeling...

  17. Kadri is amazing and will only get better. I think the same goes for Franson. I'm really excited about watching them break-out in a huge way this season. There is no doubt in my mind that they will.

    I think that they both deserve more money than is left available under the cap and I think that it is unfortunate that our desire, as fans, to see the team start the season united and strong is translating into what, at times, appears as a very harsh judgement of Kadri.

    Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that he deserves a long-term huge-money contract. He doesn't. He is indeed 'unproven' and needs to take a 'show-me deal' (he has been given a fair chance under Burke and Wilson and he just wasn't ready) but he has played very well last season and showed that he is a very special player and should be getting a nice 2-year deal at at least 3 million. Trading Kadri or losing him to an offer sheet could easily turn out to be the biggest mistake this franchise has ever made. Don Cherry is right - 'the kid has magic hands', he has also shown some gretzkyesque qualities in terms of seeing the ice and reading plays and passing that very very few players posess.

    Franson, on the other hand, has already taken the hits and played for cheap and 'shown' that he is a serious defenceman and is definitely, in my mind, worth signing to a longer-term contract at at least 4 million. I think that this is totally doable if Nonis is willing to trade Liles and retain 1.5 million of his salary. It is in fact preferrable from the standpoint of management because Franson may well be in position to demand more in a year or two when he hits the open market. The same goes for Kadri.

    Liles trade is precisely what I think will happen but only after Franson and Kadri are signed to one year 2.5 million each contracts. It's all about the cap - Poulin saying that it's not is completely unfair. I just hope that this whole ordeal doesn't result in too much bad blood between these two awesome players and the management and that, if Franson and Kadri give the team a break by signing short-term deals on the cheap they are rewarded when those deals expire.

    1. I have no doubt, leafdreamer, the Leafs will pay both guys very well if they sign short-term deals now and play really well. The organization has has shown they are more than willing to pay good players big money.

  18. I think that Kadri should sign the 2 year bridge deal but as of today there has been some talk about the reports being wrong on what Kadri was asking for, he didn't deny that he would be ok to signing a bridge deal. Personally I think this thing has gotten blown way out of proportion (as all leafs stories do). Either way we need both him and Franson in camp, hopefully it will happen.

    1. Thanks Murph- I tink sometimes (always?) things do get blown out of proportion in this market. That said, "holdouts" are always news in sports, fair or not. (I remember Dave Keon holding out in the fall of 1970. It was big news at the time.) And sometimes the players themselves fan the flames. If everyone just said nothing, or simply that they were working to get a deal done, it wouldn't be as big a story, perhaps.

    2. Still makes for interesting reads sometimes though! Just can get irritating. Lets just pray they are both signed on before the camp starts.

    3. Exactly, Murph. It all starts to get a bit annoying, if understandable from the perspective of those involved. Less contract talk, more hockey!