Nazem Kadri Can Cash in on One-Year Deal

Nazem Kadri Can Cash in on One-Year Deal
Caitlin Campbell

For Nazem Kadri, the cards are on the table when it comes to his future with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Now is the time for him to prove himself as a leader and first-line center,before he becomes another trade chip.

With the rebuild in full effect, there is a change of philosophy happening in the Leafs organization as the old guard is being moved. With Phil Kessel being shipped out of town and Tyler Bozak likely to follow, the Leafs are in need a first-line center.

Since being drafted seventh overall by the Leafs in 2009, Kadri has been forecasted as the best pivot option for the Maple Leafs. However, he has not been unable to unseat Bozak for the top-line job. As a result, Kadri has become a versatile and reliable No. 2 center for the blue and white.

Kadri has shown potential in many ways, but also has had his fair share of problems. He was suspended by the Leafs for four games after being late to a team meeting. Following those four games, he was also suspended by the NHL for a head shot. Last season was not the perfect year for Kadri heading into a contract offseason.

Luckily for Kadri there is new management in place. The old guard was never a big on Kadri and he was never utilized to his fullest. Brendan Shanahan and Co. promised to give every player a chance to prove themselves; this one-year contract extension is Kadri’s chance to do just that.

Kadri has both succeeded and failed in the NHL with the Maple Leafs, but has never taken the next step that the organization has been expecting of him. There is little doubt that Kadri himself believes that he can and should be the Leafs top pivot, but the team has not shared the same view up until recently.

On a Leafs team riddled with misfortune and poor performance last year, Kadri still managed to score 18 goals despite his point total dropping to 39 from 50 the year before. Throughout his career, Kadri has a P/GP of .603, which is even lower than Bozak’s .613.

One of Kadri’s best assets is his ability to draw penalties.

Much like a Brendan Gallagher, Kadri is a pesky player who the opposition hates to play against. He always keeps his feet moving and the constant threat of his offence forces penalties. In fact, Kadri has drawn the most penalties in the NHL in each of the last three seasons.

The one-year extension gives the Leafs options with Kadri. They want to see what he has and if he can become their top center. However, if he doesn’t excel next season, they can easily use him as a trade bait when the trade deadline rolls around. Just about every playoff-bound team would be willing to pick up a rental player with Kadri’s skills.

For both parties this contract is a win-win; For Kadri this is his chance to prove that he is indeed a legit No. 1 center for the Leafs and earn that contract security he’s been looking for.

For theLeafs they get to see the type of player they have in Kadri and flip him at the deadline if they don’t like what they see. With William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Peter Holland and now Shawn Matthias in the organization, the center position is getting a little jammed.

Kadri has always played his best when he’s got his “swagger” going. He needs to play with a chip on his shoulder and all the confidence he possesses if he wants to crack it as the Leafs number one center

  • TheUpside

    Trading Bozak is a must… Kadri is not a #1 center…. Think this is his last year as a leaf.

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Caitlin Campbell

Caitlin is a former goaltender who turned journalist after a few too many concussions. She’s a Buffalo Sabres fan living in the hockey crazed market of Toronto. She’s spent time writing with The Hockey Writers, Chat Sports, Fansided and The Fourth Period. Her work has been featured on Puck Daddy, Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated and Grantland among others.

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