Nazem Kadri's situation has Leafs Nation divided on whether to keep him or use him as trade bait
Today, he is considered to be one of many talented young players the Maple Leafs have in their system.
Kadri's main problem has been his inability to perform consistently for the Leafs when he's brought up from the AHL.
At this point, it's time for the Leafs to make a decision: make Kadri a Maple Leaf for the long haul and let him develop at the NHL level, or use him as part of a package to bring in a bona-fide number-one center or goalie.
Kadri's game has picked up since he was called up on December 21st
Those who watch sports know that a player's confidence can have a great impact on their play.
The only way to build that confidence is to continue playing NHL hockey and start seeing some success.
Nazem Kadri showed when he returned from the AHL on December 21st that he wanted to stay by playing his best in his first game out against the Buffalo Sabres. He ended up scoring the game-winning goal that night and ending the game with a plus-one player rating.
That type of game will give a young player like Kadri the sense that he does, in fact, belong in the NHL.
Over his next three games, Kadri was able to bury another two goals and was a plus-three player in those three games.
This kind of stretch is a perfect example of how playing your young talent can help a great deal in building their confidence.
Though he is young, Kadri's game will not stabilize until he is given more playing time
One of the knocks on Nazem Kadri is that he is an inconsistent player, who scores in bunches but will also go five or more games without registering a point.
One of the ways to correct that type of situation would be to play him in a more structured environment so he can perform on a more consistent basis. Playing him between 12 and 13 minutes a game would give him shorter games, where he can expend more energy per shift, while playing him 15 to 16 minutes per game would allow him to adjust his play accordingly.
Right now, Nazem sees anywhere from 12 to 16 minutes of ice time per game, which doesn't allow him to play the same kind of game every night.
I know that sometimes his performance merits more (or less) playing time, but starting him off with 12 minutes every single game and slowly working that number up would allow him to play the same type of game every night, which would undoubtedly make him a more consistent player.
This slide may have a lot of you shaking your heads.
I'm aware of the face that playing in the AHL would allow Kadri to see the ice more, giving him more time to refine his game.
The way I see it, however, is that the mistakes Kadri tends to make are best corrected at the NHL level.
For instance, one of his many problems at the NHL level is his inability to recognize when it is best to pass the puck. Though he is able to use his hands to get by a forward or two, Kadri tends to try to take on defensemen, who usually take the puck away with ease.
The best way to teach Nazem to make that pass before he turns over the puck is to keep him at the NHL level so he can see the best defensemen the world has to offer. In the AHL, those same moves may allow him to skip past a defender and get himself a scoring chance at the net.
While Kadri does have much to learn, the lessons that need to be learned are best taught at the NHL level.
One of the more obvious reasons for keeping Nazem Kadri with the Maple Leafs is that though his talent is raw, it can still help this team.
With steady playing time and a few adjustments to his game, Kadri has the ability to become a top-six forward, something Toronto could surely use with the struggles of Nikolai Kulemin and Tim Connolly so far this season.
Not to mention that at this point, the Leafs don't have someone they can bring up or play every night that will help this team more than Kadri (as much as I love Matt Frattin, he just doesn't have Kadri's talent), making him the logical choice for head coach Ron Wilson.
Trading Kadri could help fill a void on this Maple Leafs roster, without hurting the current club too much
While the last slide talked about how Kadri's talent can help a Toronto team that is struggling to find secondary scoring, this slide will talk about why this team is deep enough to trade Kadri (call it playing devil's advocate, if you will).
When this hockey season concludes, Nazem Kadri will have completed his second full season of professional hockey. Right now, it is still unlikely that he will be a top-six forward for the Maple Leafs next season.
This makes him an expendable asset, and one that many teams would covet. Losing Kadri via trade in order to acquire a front-line center or top-tier goaltender is not something that would hurt the Leafs, but it would certainly fill a major need for this club.
It's no secret that the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the market for a true number-one center.
The problem is, those guys tend to be expensive to acquire. Many rumors have stated that the price for a center like Ryan Getzlaf would be Luke Schenn, Nazem Kadri and a first round draft pick.
With Kadri being our most valuable prospect and one of our top trading pieces, he will likely be included in any deal for a bona-fide All-Star-type center.
Whether or not people believe in moving Kadri, no one can deny that a trade including him and other pieces for a center like Eric Staal or Ryan Getzlaf would fill a void the Maple Leafs have had for years now.
If Kadri doesn't pan out, the Maple Leafs will find that they need to move more pieces to acquire a top tier center
The time on Nazem Kadri's trade value is slowly running out.
His name has been mentioned as trade bait for a while now.
With Kadri playing his second full season of professional hockey, he won't be considered a prospect much longer.
Once that day arrives, he'll simply be another third-line player who hasn't lived up to his potential.
It isn't out of the realm of possibility that this could happen, which means the Maple Leafs would be better off dealing him to another club and let them deal with the fact that he could be a "bust" of a seventh overall selection.
Logically, even if he does turn into a top-six forward, the Leafs won't be at a disadvantage, because moving him will be done in order to bring in an already proven elite forward. And if he should turn out to be a disappointment, the Leafs will look like geniuses for having sold him high.
It doesn't seem like trading him while he still commands a hefty price presents any negatives for Toronto.