After all the hype surrounding a potential trade up proved for naught, Brian Burke went with a surprise pick in centerman Nazem Kadri at #7. The fact of the matter is that first-rounders are as cherished as ever and Burke was going to have to overpay to make anything happen in the top 5.
Was it fair to expect Burke to pull off something magical tonight? No, but it’s his own fault if he gets flamed for what happened or rather what didn’t. His uninhibited self-promotion these last few months set the expectations high and he came up empty. Nazem Kadri deserves his fair shake and for all intents and purposes seems a promising top 6 prospect. But it’s time for a little more action and a little less talk on Burke’s part, or at least a lot less talk if there isn’t going to be more action.
EJ McGuire describes Kadri:
â€œHe’s big, lanky and skilled. He uses his size to accentuate his puck skills. Size, reach, stick handling ability, those long kinds of stick movements that Mario (Lemieux) used to make, like (Vincent) Lecavalier makes.â€
He has the potential to become the pure offensive talent the Leafs have sorely lacked since Alex Mogilny, but there are definitely some consistency concerns with the London Knight. His stock grew in the lead up to the draft as he often outperformed linemate Tavares during the late stages of the season and playoffs, but he hasn’t manifested that level of effectiveness over significant durations of his junior career. I’m not sure he’s the prototypical Burke pick exactly, but the scouting staff was impressed with his intensity and his capability as a two-way player. Size-wise, he’ll own a decent frame when he fills out. He is also an adept penalty killer, having led the OHL in shorthanded points this past season. I’m sure we’ll see size and toughness drafted in excess tomorrow.
The pick followed a very interesting exchange between Burke and Murray where Burke checked in with the Sens GM to see if Kadri was Murray’s desired pick and then told Murray he was picking him upon hearing it was. And when Burke turned to aware his cohorts that they were picking and not trading down,Â there was look of disbelief on Nonis’ face. One could almost infer that the pick was made out of spite. Couple this with the apparent “done deal” with the Bruins for Kaberle that fell through due to an alleged bizarre miscommunication, this was the strangest of days that didn’t exactly go according to script as one could decipher from Burke’s seething as the Kings drafted Brayden Schenn. Burke’s since claimed in interviews that Kadri has been the scouting staff’s pick of the litter all along at #7 and that he was attempting to move up without sacrificing the seventh pick so that the Leafs could still secure Kadri’s services. However, Burke won’t escape this draft without a fair share of question marks being thrown his way.