Toronto Maple Leafs Rumors: Nazem Kadri's Blown Opportunity Could See Him Shipped

By Michael Roberts

After Nazem Kadri failed miserably at his opportunity to be the Toronto Maple Leafs first-line center, it shouldn’t be surprising his name has popped up recently in trade rumors.

It was suggested two weeks ago that Kadri should be used as trade bait before his value decreases because it’s become obvious he can’t play defense or on the same line as Phil Kessel. Kadri continues to make the same mistakes as it’s almost predictable when he’ll attempt to dangle defenders only to turn the puck over at the blue-line. Since he fails to learn from his mistakes and failed his audition as the team’s top-line center for the past two months, it’s starting to appear Kadri isn’t the player management thought he’d be when they selected him seventh overall in the 2009 draft.

Tyler Bozak has only played six games in the past two months as his injury troubles gave Kadri the best opportunity of his career to prove he can be a consistent contributor at the NHL level. Kadri was immediately penciled into the first-line with Kessel and James van Riemsdyk and he failed to rise to the occasion. Kadri only managed to produce 10 points with a -9 rating in November and December, meanwhile in the six games Bozak played in the past two months, he recorded eight points with a +2 rating. 

The reason Bozak has more success playing with Kessel is because he understands he needs to play through Toronto’s best player and not try to lead the way offensively. Too often during the past two months, Kadri tried to do everything himself and would lose possession of the puck before Kessel ever touched it. Bozak recognizes Kessel is one of the best offensive talents in the game and tries to compliment the winger by being a playmaker and attacking the net. Kadri is a better offensive player compared to Bozak, but he hasn’t come close to figuring out how to maximize his skillset with superior players.

Due to his lack of development as a player, many believe it’s time to ship Kadri out of town before his value starts to suffer. Kadri is still looked as an up-and-coming player, but that label will quickly expire in 2014 unless he suddenly proves he can provide consistent offense. It’s unclear what the Maple Leafs could package Kadri with, but if they could get a top-four or even top-two defenseman in return, then the team would have to consider the deal. With Peter Holland’s emergence and Dave Bolland returning to the lineup in the coming weeks, the pair could prove to be enough to fill Kadri’s void if he is moved.

This year didn’t end the way Kadri would have liked after a strong performance a season ago; perhaps a fresh start with a new team in 2014 is what the 23-year-old needs to reach the next level as a player.

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