Toronto Maple Leafs: Leafs Take Kadri, Thoughts On Day One of NHL Draft

Derek HarmsworthSenior Writer IJune 27, 2009

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 26:  Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple poses for a portrait after being selected #7 overall by the Leafs during the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre on June 26, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Nazem Kadri is a bust.  Brian Burke is an idiot.

At least that's what some in Leafs Nation are screaming this morning after the Leafs failed to trade up in the first round of last night's NHL entry draft.

And to be honest, it's really quite a shame.  

It's hard to blame Leafs fans for being a little edgy, after all, they have suffered through mediocrity for some 40-plus years.  However, to immediately cast Kadri off and say it was, as one fan put it on a message board, "a waste of a pick" is downright embarrassing.

You see, last night, there really was no right answer for the Toronto Maple Leafs.  

Sure there were scenarios that most fans dreamed up in their heads that were far fetched to begin with, but it really didn't matter what the Leafs did last night.

Because Brian Burke didn't trade for John Tavares, Brayden Schenn, and trade Tomas Kaberle for five first round picks, the night was an absolute, and utter failure right?

Wrong.  In fact, dead wrong.

Sure, Brian Burke didn't help himself by publicly declaring his virtual bromance with John Tavares, but the fact of the matter is, Burke worked feverishly and diligently to move up in this year's draft, and in fact had a deal on the table (more on that later). 

But the simple fact remains, he felt the price too high, so he picked where the Leafs were slated to, seventh overall, and selected a pretty damn good player in Nazem Kadri.

So now that we've had a few hours to settle a bit, I ask those in Leafs Nation to take one giant step back from the ledge and let me explain how this draft wasn't a loss for the Toronto Maple Leafs.  

Start from the very beginning of this story.


Moving up to grab John Tavares

Again, like I said, Burke didn't help himself by making his feelings for JT known.  Still, the simply fact remains that even if he wanted to make a deal, it was impossible.

Brian Burke is a smart hockey mind.  In fact, he is a lot of things.  Unfortunately, magician isn't one of them.

See, the New York Islanders never once entertained the idea of trading the No. 1 pick.  Though there was some shroud of mystery over who they were selecting, there is no doubt they were using that pick from the word go.

Therefore, everything Brian Burke perhaps wanted to do, was contingent on the New York Islanders and what they had planned for the first overall pick.

Once they chose Tavares, there was little reason for Burke to deal Luke Schenn and other assets away to Tampa Bay.

Victor Hedman and Matt Duchene are top class prospects and no doubt will be great NHL players, but Burke wanted Tavares.

And once he was off the board at No. 1, it didn't make sense for Burke to risk as much assets as Tampa GM Brian Lawton wanted to move up to the two spot.


Selecting Nazem Kadri seventh overall

After much speculation, the Leafs held onto the seventh overall pick, and with it selected Nazem Kadri, a shifty, playmaking centre from the OHL's London Knights.

While some fans were disappointed that Brayden Schenn was no longer around, and that the Leafs left players like Pajaarvi-Svensson and Jared Cowan on the board, there is no doubt in my mind that they still will get a hell of a player out of Nazem Kadri.

In his first year with his hometown London Knights, Kadri notched 78 points in 56 games this year in the regular season, followed up by a 21 point playoff (which tied him with Tavares, by the way.)

As a person who calls the London area his home, I had the personal opportunity to see Kadri play at least 10 times this year, and I can assure you, this kid brings it.

He has a great shot, and is a smooth skater who can read plays very well.  He also isn't afraid to get his nose dirty when the play gets chippy.

I even had the chance to meet him at an autograph signing, and I can tell you he is over the moon about the fact he gets to play hockey for a living.  He was very nice to every fan that came through, constant smile on his face, and he knows how fortunate he is to be where he is.

Add to that the fact he is coming from the Hunter brothers hockey factory in London.  Kadri comes from the same London Knights team and management group that has churned out Patrick Kane, Sam Gagner, Steve Mason, and John Carlson.

After the dust settles, and some of the bitterness of false hope subsides, Leafs fans will be very happy with Nazem Kadri.

One interesting aside though, usually one of my favourite personalities, I didn't care much for James Duthie asking Brian Burke how disappointed he was in picking Kadri, with Kadri sitting between the two of them.  

Just seemed a little unprofessional to me.


Trading Tomas Kaberle

The Leafs said all along, they would have preferred to wait until July to trade Tomas Kaberle.

Offers came in yesterday, about four or five from what I heard.  And the Leafs certainly considered them, but at the end of the day they feel it's much better to wait until after July 1 to make any deal.

The reason is simple.

Teams who lose out on jay Bouwmeester, or who aren't willing to pay his demands, will be calling the Toronto Maple Leafs, and looking for a puck moving defenseman.

By holding onto Kaberle until Bouwmeester is signed and sealed in another NHL city, the demand for the Leafs prized asset will rise, maximizing the return.

Don't think for a second Burke didn't consider offers yesterday, but their original plan was to hold off until July 1.


It was only day one of the draft

Day two of the draft, as the Leafs proved last year, is a very important day also.  The Leafs own two second round selections, and one each in the third, fifth, sixth, and seventh round.

There are plenty of young talented players out there for the Leafs to choose from.  Among them, Ryan O'Reilly and Tomas Tatar.

Not to mention plenty of goaltenders available, whom you know the Leafs will have their eyes on.  Matt Hackett and Jaroslav Janus among them.


This article is also featured on my blog.  Check it out HERE.


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