If you believe some reports, the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to part ways with playmaking centre Nazem Kadri. According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post:
“Boy oh boy, would the Leafs love to find a taker for Nazem Kadri.”
Quote courtesy of the New York Post. Read full article here.
While Brooks’s comment may be derived from some insider knowledge, it isn’t exactly descriptive, and it stands alone as his only say on the subject within an article that focuses on the American Olympic team.
Is Kadri actually on the trade block? If I’m guessing, I’d say that he probably is. The Leafs’ largest weakness is at the centre position. Nonis has committed to making the playoffs now, as in, he’s trying to build a perennial playoff team, and his squad has been OK this year. An upgrade at centre would drastically improve the Leafs as a team, therefore, maybe the organization’s patience with Kadri is running thin.
Kadri entered this season with several supporters; believers that he could improve upon last season’s terrific numbers (by his standards). Half way through the year, Kadri has put up his points here and there, but his overall game is still slow developing. In other words, he’s not performing at the level a top six centre should, and he certainly doesn’t possess the defensive acumen to play a predominantly defensive role.
Due to an injury riddled season by Leafs number one centre Tyler Bozak, Kadri has been given several chances to play on the top line with Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk this season, where he’s experienced little success. Aside from an optimistic thrashing of the lowly Edmonton Oilers early in the season, the Kessel, Kadri, JVR experiment has been uneventful. I guess, the little things Bozak does away from the puck and in the corners have a greater impact on Kessel’s success than he’s given credit for. When Kadri replaced Bozak, the latter’s importance to the top line became very evident. Bozak is back, and the line is scoring again.
The emergence of centre Peter Holland – acquired from the Anaheim Ducks earlier this season for defenceman Jesse Blacker – has potentially rendered Kadri less valuable. Throughout Bozak’s most recent bout with injury, Holland adopted a top six role at centre, and truth be told, he excelled in that role. With Bozak back, and the Leafs rich on third line centres (Bolland and McClemment), the fight for the second line centre duty is clearly a battle between Nazem Kadri and Peter Holland, both of whom were drafted in the 2009 first round.
If there are any takers on Kadri, assuming he is actually available, the Leafs will probably desire a significant return. After all, number 43 is still young and he has shown flashes of brilliance. The problem is, the flashes have been few and far between.