The suspension to Nazem Kadri came at the worst possible time for the Toronto Maple Leafs, with Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland already out of the lineup with injuries.
Kadri’s suspension has now left the Maple Leafs without their top three centers, when they were already scrambling for options at the position. Toronto signed Jerred Smithson and moved James van Riemsdyk to center last week to try to fill the void left by the injuries. They’ll now look to minor league call-up Trevor Smith to help out during Kadri’s suspension.
Kadri was suspended for a reckless and unnecessary hit on Minnesota Wild goaltender Nicklas Backstrom. Kadri made no effort to avoid the goaltender and made direct contact with Backstrom’s head, forcing him to leave the game minutes after the hit. Had Kadri made any sort of effort to avoid the goaltender, it’s unlikely that he would have been suspended. However, the careless act by Kadri, that there was absolutely no need for, has now left a significant void for the Maple Leafs at center.
Kadri has a reputation for playing on the edge — he was known for it when he played junior hockey and it’s part of the reason why Toronto drafted him. He’s a skilled player with a little bit of sandpaper attached. Unfortunately, when you play on the edge, sometimes you cross it, and this is the last thing Kadri needed to do for not only him, but his team as well. With Bozak and Bolland out of the lineup, Kadri was given the best opportunity of his career to deliver top-line center minutes for the club. He had the potential to put up points while playing quality minutes to prove he’ll be a future star in the league. Now, he’s hurt his team severely when they couldn’t have been more vulnerable.
Toronto was as desperate as any team could be when it came to their depth at the center position. They moved their power forward left-winger to play center and signed a guy who was playing in the minors. The stars couldn’t have aligned any better for Kadri to show he deserved the big contract he was asking for in the summer. His team needed him more now than ever, and by getting suspended, he’s let the entire organization down. This was supposed to be Kadri’s time to shine.
Now, with his team having lost three of their past four games, Kadri will be forced to watch the team he helped make short-handed try to hang on in his absence.