That Kadri kid is pretty good isn't he? Back when Brian Burke stepped up to the podium at the 2009 NHL Draft in Montreal, I imagine this was the player he was envisioning that night: slick, slippery and drenched in skill. That was an absolute clinic Kadri put on out there against the Lightning, displaying all sorts of offensive creativity, patience and ingenuity with the puck. This is a player who is gaining confidence and progressing by leaps and bounds - a player on the verge of making a lasting imprint in this star-starved market. But before we get too far of ourselves thinking ahead, why don't we take a step back and briefly peruse the timeline that has led him to the "now" (and enjoy a few memorable quotes along the way).
Weâ€™ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11.Today we feature Phil Kessel, profiled by Garrett Bauman.
Acquired via a controversial trade during the 2009 offseason in which three draft picks were sent to the Bruins, Kessel rebounded from shoulder surgery to become the Maple Leafs go-to guy in the offensive zone.
Despite missing a month of the season, the electrifying 22-year old winger led the Maple Leafs in several offensive categories while providing the team with a legitimate scoring threat -- and their first 30-goal scorer of the post-Sundin era.
Only 22, Kessel has a bright future ahead of him and many suspect it will be only a matter of time before 40-goal seasons become the norm.
When Brian Burke became the new general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs in November of 2008, Leafs Nation embarked on a new journey. Â A new beginning. Â With Burke at the helm, the Leafs organization finally had a general manager who had credentials. Â Who had a winning pedigree. Â Who had the exact type of attitude the Toronto market needed.
A man who wouldn't take any nonsense from anyone, and a man who wasn't afraid to pull the trigger on a big move that may set the team up for the better in the long term, a characteristic it seemed so many Leafs GM's lacked in between the time of Fletcher's first run, and Burke being christened as the new head of the front office.
Finally, Leafs fans were able to legitimately talk about the "Big O", and they weren't faking it either.
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.
Someone recently asked me a trivia question that got me thinking. The question was, â€œHow many major individual awards have been won by Maple Leaf players since the last Stanley Cup win in 1967?â€
Brian Burke's exact intentions with the Toronto Maple Leafs will be the source of much speculation likely until after the Christmas season, but there may just be one tweak made in shorter order: locating a genuine heavyweight pugilist as a bottom six "hardhat" in his roster.