September 30, 2010

Enough about Kadri!

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

Kadri, Kadri, Kadri. All you could possibly read about this Leafs pre-season pertained to former first-round pick Nazem Kadri.

Sure, he was the team’s most recent highly-touted prospect, but from the amount of coverage he has been getting, you would think that he’s a legend on his way to Toronto… err, the Hall of Fame.

Should he fail to make the big league team, who cares? At the age of 19, he’s still developing. A year with the AHL Marlies could do him well. In fact, I think it would be the preferred route.

Why put him on the team when he’s not ready for the bigs? There’s a lot bigger chance he’ll get hurt and the media would tear him apart and dissect — as they already have — for everything he does, right or wrong.

Kadri did respond to recent criticism from his coach and GM Wednesday night with a big two-goal, one-assist performance, but let’s not get too fired up about that. The level of play in the pre-season is just about what you would expect from an AHL game. So would you rather hope that a guy that would be over his head in bigs can develop there, or let him, perhaps, have a great campaign in the minors?

The Maple Leafs should look at their recent track record with first-rounders. How many have actually panned out and turned into all-stars? None. You’re looking at a best-case scenario in Luke Schenn, who is a No. 4 or 5 defenceman on this team. Sure, Schenn has some competition ahead of him on the depth chart but the Leafs are a terrible defensive club.

The Kadri debate should end here: Sent him to the AHL. If he grows up quickly, call him up later this season. If he still needs to develop, keep him with the Marlies. The Leafs still aren’t ready to contend for a Cup and they’ll need their supposed superstar prospect for that time, not right now.

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