Nazem Kadri's Contract Talks With Toronto Maple Leafs Are Getting Foolish

By Casey Drottar
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, contract holdouts. Aren’t they a blast? Nothing gets you more pumped about an upcoming NHL season than a player refusing to show up to camp until he receives the contract he believes he deserves. Sometimes the player has a point, as he may be getting low-balled despite putting up consistently stellar numbers through the years. Other times, it’s just plain pointless.

For the latter, look no further than the standoff going on between the Toronto Maple Leafs and their young forward Nazem Kadri.

In his first full season with the Leafs, Kadri came out of the gate flying last year, scoring at an unreal pace and even finding his name tossed around in Hart Trophy talks. He eventually cooled a bit, but still, 18 goals and 26 assists in his first full season is an impressive display.

For the sake of hammering home a point, let’s say the phrase “first full season” one last time. The reasoning is because, first of all, it was just one year. Secondly, “full” is a questionable word since the season was a lockout-reduced 48 games.

Remember all of this because, to Kadri, none of it matters. He’s a superstar, and he wants to be compensated as such. TSN‘s Bob McKenzie even reported Kadri was looking for a contract along the lines of $5.5 million a year for six years. Of course, Kadri then responded to McKenzie’s tweet with a classy “false bobo.” You can’t make this up.

The Leafs, however, were thinking more of a “show me” or bridge contract for Kadri. For good reason, too, since they have such a small sample size to look at. They’re also cash-strapped as it is, and still need to sign defenseman Cody Fransen as well.

Sometimes these disputes bring about a fair argument for both sides. Here, though, it’s clear. The Leafs are right, Kadri is wrong. It’s not even close.

One 44-point season and now he wants to get paid like an All-Star? Sorry, it just doesn’t make any sense. Especially if a team just simply doesn’t have the money he’s asking for to begin with. If Toronto came close to meeting his requests, it will severely limit their options when it comes to retaining their own talent for the near future.

More importantly, the rate at which big money contracts are given to flash-in-the-pan players that end up backfiring is staggering. This goes for any sport, not just hockey. The Leafs just now found themselves in the playoffs again for the first time in ages. To risk their shot at acquiring talent that’ll help them continue this success all on a player who, despite having a great year in 2013, hasn’t shown anyone whether or not he’s capable of doing it again during multiple 82 game seasons, would be astoundingly idiotic.

At the time, it appears Toronto is very aware of this. GM Dave Nonis has already claimed the contract they offered Kadri would be the same regardless of whether or not they had a ton of cap space to work with. Good for them for sticking to their guns and attempting to make Kadri earn his big dollars with a small bridge contract.

Does Kadri have the potential to be the next superstar in the NHL? It’s lofty, but the bottom line is we just don’t know yet. Neither do the Leafs. Don’t expect them to change their minds on the sheer fact that Kadri believes he deserves it.

Casey Drottar is an NHL writer for Follow him on Twitter @CDrottar19 or “Like” him on Facebook

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