I’m going to make this very simple. Kadri is a young player who’s stock is on the rise. There’s next to no reason to try and write a detailed summary of Kadri’s season. I’m going to let the highlights do that for me. I also gave him a 9 out of 10. I wanted to find a balance between my expectations and his contributions to the Leafs. I felt that 9 was a happy medium in between the two because I had expected 25-30 points and got 44 instead. He surpassed everyone’s expectations and perhaps even his own. But I don’t feel that he ‘carried’ the Leafs the way Kessel, Reimer, and Phaneuf did. But by the end of the year, I was very encouraged by how Kadri conducted himself in the team’s last two games of the playoffs.
It is a rare instance in which the Toronto Maple Leafs has been able to develop their drafted prospects. It is even rarer that the prospect turns out to be a legitimate star. Nazem Kadri’s star is rising and he couldn’t have arrived at a better time.
Back in 2009, when the Leafs selected Kadri, there was a large online contingent of fans who absolutely lambasted the pick. Fast forward to four years later and the love-in has begun.
The 2013 Kadri was a remarkable improvement on the previous editions. After starting the season with the team’s first goal, Kadri went on to record 44 points over 48 games, with two hat-tricks and an increased role culminating in finishing the season as the team’s first-line centre. It didn’t matter who Kadri played with, he always made them better. However, Kadri’s season wasn’t without some valleys.
Entering the lockout, there was a mild controversy regarding Kadri’s fitness levels. While completely overblown by the media and fans alike, it did nothing to stop the whispers that Kadri was eating his way out of Toronto. Rumours had also surfaced in the summer that the Leafs had considered trading Kadri as part of a package to bring Luongo to Toronto.
Thankfully, the trade didn’t happen and we got to see this:
Basically, wives and girlfriends, boyfriends and husbands were spurned for a little of our own TLC this year. The highlight reel goals, impassioned celebrations, board-rattling hits.. Kadri’s competitive fire is a sight to behold and suggests this is only the beginning, impossibly high shooting percentage aside.
There’s no ceiling for a player of Kadri’s skill level – he’s going to be a great one. The question is, when? Do we leave the number one center role open for him to grab by the horns next season?