Toronto Maple Leafs: The Time Is Now For Nazem Kadri

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

If Nazem Kadri is ever going to make it with the Toronto Maples Leafs, his time is now to step up and prove what he’s capable of.

Toronto and its 2-3 record have been hit hard recently with the loss of Joffrey Lupul for at least six weeks and Clarke MacArthur being doubtful for the rematch against the Buffalo Sabres.

The time is now for Kadri to prove he’s capable of providing consistent offensive contributions.

He was given the Jason Spezza treatment on his way to the NHL. Meaning, he quickly proved he’s talented offensively however his defensive game kept him in the minors perhaps a year or two longer than it should have.

The good news for Kadri is through the first five games of the season he’s looked the strongest defensively he’s ever been in his Maple Leaf career. Credit is owed to Toronto Marlies Head Coach Dallas Eakins for working on Kadri in the minors and improving his two-way game.

The former seventh overall pick in 2009 currently leads the Maple Leafs with five points, scoring three goals and picking up two assists. Despite leading the team in points and goal scoring, only five forwards on the roster have less playing team than Kadri. Fourth-liners Jay McClement, Mike Brown, Colten Orr and David Steckel are averaging less ice time, with Steckel only playing in one game this season. Meanwhile, Lupul’s injury call-up, Matt Frattin, is the only other forward with less playing time.

Kadri deserves a lot more than being slightly above fourth-liners in playing time and given the injuries his team has suffered, he’s going to get his chance to produce. If he can continue to show his offensive talents like he’s shown flashes off to begin the season, then Maple Leaf fans will finally begin to see return on one of the most discussed draft picks in team history.

Given everything Kadri has endured with media scrutiny and former Coach Ron Wilson’s confidence robbing style of coaching, hopefully the 22 year-old can find his comfort zone.

After all, those in Toronto know the moment they trade away the former first rounder is the moment he’ll likely breakout and shine with that new team.

Michael covers ACC and Big East basketball along with the Toronto Raptors for Rant Sports, you can follow him on Twitter @MichaelxRoberts

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