Friday, November 12, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal: Nazem Kadri

Hope, as defined in Webster’s dictionary; someone (or something) upon which expectations are centered. It’s a simple definition for a word that can be extraordinarily complex depending on the context of its use. In this case, for Leafs fans, hope can be summed up with one singular word – Kadri.

Friday the Toronto Maple Leafs officially called up Nazem Kadri from our AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies. While Nazem won’t have to travel far to the big club (the Marlies play down the road at Rico Coliseum) the road to NHL respectability may be longer and bumpier.

The Leafs best prospect and 7th overall pick in the 2009 entry draft has been effective in his early season stint with the Marlies, compiling five goals and nine assists in 14 games.

I have very mixed feelings towards calling up Kadri this early in the season. While part of me is very excited to see what he can do at the NHL level, after being humbled to start the year and learning how to play with bigger, stronger men in the AHL. The other part of me is scared – as Kadri represents our last real card to play this year. If he does fizzle and can’t jump start any secondary scoring, we won’t have many other moves to make. Short of trading Kaberle or attempting to take on bad contracts from budget teams the Leafs will be painted into a corner.

The good news is Kadri possesses many of the offensive tools the Leafs have been sorely lacking this season. Great speed, soft hands, and a nose for the net. He is a bit undersized (but then again who isn’t on our top 6) but there is no reason to think he won’t enjoy at least some success slotted in on the second line with say Kulemin and Versteeg (Editor's note: according to the Globe, looks like Kadri will be starting out on the wing to reduce his defensive responsibilities). If he can jumpstart our even strength secondary scoring, and provide a little razzle dazzle to the power play (yeah, I said razzle dazzle) we might be able to take better advantage of the fantastic goaltending of late from Giggy and the Monster.

I don’t know if Kadri is the answer to all our woes in the current losing streak, but at the very least he represents hope. Hope that in the coming months we will get to watch one of our future leaders on the club mature into a respectable NHLer. Kadri has the all the swagger, raw skill, and determination of a young Dougie Gilmour, let us hope he has more than just a little “killer” in him.

Cheers to the future Leaf fans.

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