I love the AHL. For me, it’s the best developmental league in the world. Itâ€™s not just about developing the skills of young players, itâ€™s also giving a young, skilled player confidence in his ability.
Kadri still isnâ€™t wowing me with his defensive play, though itâ€™s improving. It’s his ability to control his shifts, his game, and contribute in a big way offensively that’s turning my head. Itâ€™s becoming a natural thing for the kid. That is what the AHL can do to a player.
In 22 AHL games this year, Nazem has been a point-per-game player. He scored 8 goals and had 14 assists, but was also a minus 4. Plus/minus may be a boneheaded stat, but it’s still a boneheaded stat that speaks of a player who isn’t exactly Datsyukian in terms of how he handles the defensive end of things. But, alongside Connolly and MacArthur the Leafs have given that kind of player a chance to shine offensively and see it translate to the NHL level.
To me, I think his mind was in the NHL before he was and until he took on that “Iâ€™ll concentrate on whatâ€™s in front of me” attitude, we didnâ€™t see a Kadri such as this one. When he got back to the AHL you got the feeling he was focused on doing the right things and, more importantly, focused on playing in the AHL. Only by doing that and not dreaming about the NHL will he probably truly make it (he still has to stick).
It can be argued that he got minutes last year, minutes he took really well (most notably, against Detroit), but you still got the feeling he needed to work on his defensive game and turnovers. Surprisingly, you still sometimes do, but the offense makes it worthwhile when it comes consistently. I donâ€™t know if Kadri will ever be an excellent defensive player, but if he brings offense every night we probably wonâ€™t care all that much. Consistency is key.
Kadri has a skillset thatâ€™s fairly similar to that of Patrick Kane. That doesnâ€™t mean heâ€™ll ever come close to Patrick Kane. If developed properly Kadri will probably resemble something along the lines of a Mike Ribeiro, but thatâ€™s not my point. My point is, a big part of why Patrick Kane is so good with the puck and why he can make such plays is confidence. Sure, you can factor in decision making, creativity, offensive flair, etc., but confidence is a big part of putting it all together.
So, do we have finally have a Kadri who can contribute to the offense on a consistent basis? Better, smarter decisions with the puck, and a guy who is limiting his turnovers, makes me fairly confident we do. I guess weâ€™ll find that out. Itâ€™s a nice start, but two games can hardly answer that question.
Last but not least, merry Christmas and happy Holidays from all our staff here at MLHS, enjoy it, spend some time withÂ the family and stay well.