The Toronto Maple Leafs experienced a great deal of success during the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign, probably more than anyone could have expected. They showed throughout the season that they were the real deal, ending up with the no. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Part of the reason that they were able to have such a successful regular season was due to a core group of forwards that were a threat to score every time they touched the puck. One member of that core group was breakout forward Nazem Kadri.
The Leafs and their fans had been waiting quite a while for Kadri to finally make his impact at this level, and it proved to be worth the wait. Kadri was one of the more dangerous offensive players throughout the league this season, setting him up for a raise this summer.
Kadri ended up posting 44 points during the regular season, easily blowing away any production that he had seen in the league to that point. Eight of his points came on the power play, including five of his 18 goals coming on the man advantage.
He didn’t have a strong showing in the playoffs, failing to get on the stat sheet with a goal until Game 7, and finishing with only four points on the season overall. But that doesn’t mean much for his status this summer.
Kadri will be a restricted free agent this summer. Which means that it’s pretty likely that he’ll be back with the team, since teams are reluctant to use that offer sheet these days, for fear of angering fellow general managers. Nonetheless, the risk is still there.
Which means that locking up Kadri will be a priority for the Maple Leafs this summer. They likely won’t sign him to a six or seven-year deal right off the bat. They may sign him to a shorter term deal so that Kadri can prove that his 2013 was no fluke.
Coming off of a season in which he carried a cap hit over $1.7 million, Kadri could very well see his salary double this summer. Regardless of what he ends up with, though, we do know that getting him locked up for the next few years will be very high on the to-do list for the Maple Leafs this summer.