Leafs' centre Nazem Kadri finds himself at the centre of attention, as a disappointing season for the Leafs winds down.
Toronto - March 16, 2015 - The last week or so in Leafs’ land has centred around Nazem Kadri and his “embarrassing” and “humiliating” suspension for being late, and speculated off-ice issues. Kadri missed 3 games, those being against the Islanders, Sabres and Flames, and since managements decision to sit him all we have heard about is whether or not it was the right thing to do. The speculation hit full swing when Don Cherry said that Kadri would leave in 2 years as a result of being “ridiculed and humiliated” by the Leafs decision to sit him. In the wake of Don’s comments on Hockey Night in Canada, Leafs nation’s response has been rather blase. Leafs’ fans needs to wake up and realize that Kadri’s departure at any point in the next 3 years would be a massive set back to the recently embarked upon rebuild. That being said, I’m not as confident as Don that Nazem is sprinting for the door.
Nazem has swagger, some might call him cocky. He’s also from Southern Ontario and loves the attention of playing in a big market like Toronto. I have a hard time believing he’s going to want to trade in his spot in the limelight, rather than doing the consensus best thing for his career, and maturing, Nazem, by all accounts love’s being a Leaf. When so many in the hockey world are in agreement that maturing off-ice is what he needs to do, I can’t see him running for the door. Regardless of his decision when he eventually becomes a UFA, Leaf fan’s better hope he’s in no rush to leave.
The Leafs drafted the now 24 year old centre 7th overall in the 2009 entry draft. From that draft only 4 centre’s have more points than Kadri. Those being John Tavares(NYI), Matt Duchene(COL), Marcus Johansson(WAS), and 2nd round selection Ryan O’Reilly(COL). For the curious, Brayden Schenn has 27 less points in 21 more games played. The argument that Kadri has not been a top point producer in his career is just clearly not the case. That narrative takes an even bigger hit when you look at his P60 stat, or Points per 60 minutes of ice time.
Nazem’s P60 in the 2014/15 season as of Monday March 16th 2015 is 1.8P/60. Now let’s add some context by listing some other players who this year also have a P/60 of 1.8: Taylor Hall, Marian Hossa, both Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Alex Ovechkin and Johnny Gaudreau. Still not convinced Kadri’s the real deal? Then allow me to continue.
The stat that few talk about with Kadri, is one that everybody should be talking about. Penalty Differential, or penalties taken vs penalties drawn. Kadri leads the league with a differential of 23. Second place is held by Vladimir Tarasenko of the Blues with a differential of 16. The ability to put your team on the power play is vastly underrated, especially when up until the mid point of this season the Leafs had a top level PP. That’s an ability that you might call ‘game changing’.
Further more Kadri’s a positive possession player for the Leafs, the only one
I might add. Even more impressively he’s the Leafs’ only positive possession player playing against the opposing team’s top line. Did I mention he’s only 24. He also leads the team in Relative Scoring Chances For, Scoring Chances For per 60, and he’s second on the team in Corsi For Relative behind Jake Gardiner. There is virtually no argument to be made against the statement “Nazem Kadri has been the best offensive forward for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2014/2015 season.”
Allow me to recap, and make sure I have made my point. The Leafs are currently a bottom 5 franchise who cannot score and are about to hit the reset button. They have a high level point producing centre who is 24 years old, doesn’t take penalties, puts the team on the PP, creates offense and loves being in the spot light. If you are a Leafs’ fan and you want the Leafs to be successful, it is unfathomable that you would not want Nazem Kadri on this team for the next 3-5 years. A 24 year old centre with numbers like that is irreplaceable, at least not immediately. If the Leafs were to trade Kadri, or let him walk in 2 years time, the only conceivable way to replace him is through the draft. That could take years for a player to finally reach a similar level to Kadri. My only question left regarding Nazem is how long until he gets an ‘A’ on his jersey.
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All stats courtesy of http://war-on-ice.com/