5-Year Projection for Leafs Rising Star Nazem Kadri

Brad LeClair@beerad87Correspondent IApril 23, 2013

5-Year Projection for Leafs Rising Star Nazem Kadri

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    Having played just over a full season in the NHL, Nazem Kadri's journey to that point has been a roller coaster of emotion for Kadri and much of Leafs Nation.

    Not since Wendel Clark has a first-round draft pick been this publicized and this scrutinized. Kadri's ability to take that pressure and turn around and combat that pressure by exploding upon the NHL this season is something spectacular.

    Judging by his already 70-plus games this season, his recent offensive slumber has more to do with losing Joffrey Lupul as a linemate and games played this season, as opposed to Kadri just coming back down to earth.

    Kadri's offensive upside is huge, and he's already drawing comparisons to former Leaf Doug Gilmour. Pretty big skates to fill for Kadri, but I'm sure he can fill them adequately.

Year 1: Getting Stronger and More Consistent

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    The goal for Nazem Kadri this offseason is simple: Get Stronger.

    He came into camp in fairly good shape after working out with Gary Roberts in the summer, but this offseason he will need to step it up a notch to get his body into almost Sidney Crosby-like shape.

    Crosby, almost impossible to knock off the puck, is a poster boy for a strong lower half.

    Kadri's weakness, if there is one, is his play in the corners—in other words, in the dirty areas. With a few extra pounds packed on of muscle, I can see Kadri being a menace in a few years.

    First Year Projection: 25 goals and 45 assists for 70 points in 82 games

Year 2: Building on a Strong Season, Elevating Himself to First-Line Center

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    This will be the biggest jump in Kadri's career. Once he has added the extra weight and worked on his faceoff ability, becoming the first-line center may just be a matter of time and patience.

    Kadri's ability to finish in traffic, create offense out of nothing and best of all, his ability to make others better around him only bodes well for the likes of Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul and James van Riemsdyk.

    Kadri could be elevated to that role next season due to the contract talks, or lack there of with Leafs' first-line center Tyler Bozak.

    Year 2 Projection: 32 goals and 50 assists for 82 points in 82 games

Year 3: Becoming the Face of the Franchise, Leadership Responsibility

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    Another facet of Kadri's game that could use some work is his leadership skills. Kadri has a future captaincy written all over him, but first he will need to work on his leadership skills.

    At the age of 26 in his third year projection, he will be just entering the prime of his career. Already a point-per-game player, look for Kadri to have numbers similar to Martin St. Louis, who is Steven Stamkos' personal puck feeder. Anytime Stamkos scores, it seems St. Louis is receiving the primary assist.

    The same could happen with Phil Kessel and Kadri.

    Year 3 Projection: 35 goals and 55 assists for 90 points in 82 games

Year 4: Leading the Leafs Deep into the Playoffs

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    This is probably going to he the hardest of them all, as Kadri's short, light frame doesn't really fit into "the carry my team on my shoulders" mold.

    Not only Kadri, but some of the remaining Leafs like Joffrey Lupul, hopefully Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly and likely James Reimer will be there to offer support and help him out.

    Kadri could eventually become a top-10 player in the league in terms of points, just based on his escapability and his ability to create offense in traffic.

    Year 4 Projection: 35 goals and 62 assists for 97 points in 82 games

Year 5: Reaches His Peak , Kadri Scores 100 Points for the First Time in Career

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    This is pretty much where you will get the maximum of what Kadri can do. He'll likely peak in his sixth year at the age of 28. He should be roughly 190 pounds and have handled the responsibility of carrying the Leafs to the playoffs.

    He's an elite offensive creator and will finally hit the 100-point plateau in his sixth year. Six years is awhile from now, and to be honest, I can't see who will be on the team in that much time. The Leafs roster could have a whole new look, or Kadri could be with another team.

    Year 5 Projection: 34 goals and 68 assists for 102 points in 82 games