A slow start to the AHL year was probably the last thing Nazem Kadri needed.
Kadri is the most polarizing Leafs prospect in recent memory and at 22 has yet to stick as an NHL regular. Â After spending the tail end of the summer training with fitness guru Gary Roberts, Kadri came to camp only to have his fitness criticized by head coach Dallas Eakins. Â Cue the fan unrest.
Through nine games, Kadri had put up a very pedestrian 3 points (0G, 3A) and found himself on the healthy scratch list. The ‘Bust’ set were starting to get loud again.
One week later and Kadri is back to his old ways. Â In his last 5 games, Kadri has put up 11 points (2G, 9A) and is now tied for 14th in AHL scoring after an abysmal start. Â This production, while impressive, still has room for improvement as Kadri’s shooting percentage is sitting at 6.3% when he’s closer to a 15% shooter over a large sample. Â I’ve maintained all year that Kadri has looked good in the games that I’ve seen him play and was taken by surprise when he was singled out for a benching (though I didn’t see the game that preceded it).
In February, I wrote a piece comparing Kadri’s production against other high picks from the 2008 and 2009 draft classes and the results may surprise some of the more anti-Kadri among you. Â My opinion on Kadri is that he’s doing just fine and I genuinely feel that he’s deserving of a spot on the 2012-13 Leafs, if the league ever gets around to playing hockey.
Things in the CHL were a little uneventful this week. Â Morgan Rielly was involved in the Subway Super Series and his Moose Jaw Warriors had a 9 day break between games (they’ll get back under way on Wednesday). Â Josh Leivo picked up a pair of assists in yesterday’s game, including a beauty cross-crease number (I’ll tweet out the highlight pack if it comes available) and he continues to fire at a point-per-game clip on a bad Sudbury team.
Tyler Biggs and Stuart Percy faced off against each other last night in Oshawa with Percy coming out on the better end of the encounter. Â Biggs started the game chasing Percy around the ice a little bit which I’m sure some people enjoyed but I found a little annoying. Â One of my favourite things about Tyler Biggs is how he seldom takes himself out of position to make the big hit but for some reason last night it looked like he was trying to prove something to someone.
Percy ended the game with 3 assists, 2 on the powerplay and none of them spectacular, and played a prototypical Stuart Percy game. Â He’s a good positional defender, he’s struck the right balance between physicality and finesse when dealing with opposing forwards, but he’s still far more apt to try and skate the puck out of the zone than to make a good, crisp breakout pass.
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