The Leafs still have high hopes for Nazem Kadri.
It might take him a year in the minors, but he was going to become a star for the Maple Leafs.
It has not worked out that way. Edmonton and Boston saw Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin become contributors in their rookie years when when they were selected the year after Kadri. Carolina saw the same thing happen with Jeff Skinner.
While other youngsters were becoming impact players in the NHL, Kadri was still a "potential" player. He demonstrated his vast talent with the Toronto Marlies, but when Brian Burke would call him up to play with the Leafs it was nothing more than a flash here or flash there.
It was disappointing for all concerned, especially Kadri and the Leafs.
He is still a young player at 22. He is not a player who should be written off, but he has not made it with the Leafs.
Perhaps he never will.
This is a team team that has not made the playoffs since before the 2004-05 lockout and is hungry for stars who produce.
Kadri has great hands and offensive instincts, but he has scored eight goals in 51 games. There have been multiple call-ups and chances to show what he can do.
Some would say that none of those chances have been good enough.
Perhaps it's because of the way he has been treated by the Leafs and perhaps it's because of his own lack of conditioning.
Kadri did not seem to pay particular attention to factors like physical strength and conditioning which has contributed to his glacier-like development as an NHL player.
Last season, Burke told Damien Cox of the Toronto Star through an email that he still had faith in Kadri.
"Naz is going to be a good NHL player," said Burke. "But young players need to bring urgency and energy to the game, and those components have tailed off."
"He's going to be just fine."
It almost sounded as if Burke was trying to convince himself.
Trading Kadri may be the way to go. The subject has been explored and it may be best for the Leafs and Kadri. He's still young and talented and very attractive to many teams throughout the NHL. He scored 18 goals and had 22 assists for the Marlies last year in 48 games.
Kadri has not gotten off to a fast start this year. Just three assists and no goals in his first eight games with the Marlies. He should still be worthy of a second- or third-line player and a high draft pick.
If Kadri doesn't start producing quickly with the Marlies, more questions will be asked and his trade value will likely go down.
Kadri still gets attention as a hot prospect, but the temperature is not as high as it was a year or two ago.
Hot prospects only get so many chances to prove themselves.
It's getting close to the now-or-never time for Kadri.