NHL Preseason: Nazem Kadri Silences Critics for Now

Todd WhittomContributor ISeptember 30, 2010

KANATA, ON - SEPTEMBER 29:  Phil Kessel #81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his game winning goal against the Ottawa Senators with teammates Nikolai Kulemin #41;Nazem Kadri #43 and Dion Phaneuf #3 during a game at Scotiabank Place on September 29, 2010 in Kanata, Canada.  The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-3.(Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

The burning question in the Toronto Maple Leafs camp right now is..."Does playing on the top line and scoring two goals guarantee you a roster spot?" The answer will be revealed in the days leading up to the start of the 2010-11 NHL season.

Nazem Kadri has been taking a lot of heat lately for his play in the preseason. So much heat that it may have lit a fire under him prior to Wednesday night's game with the Ottawa Senators.

Kadri, who was playing left wing on a line with Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel, responded to the criticism with two goals and an assist during his "final swan song" in the preseason. He was also on the ice for three of the Senators' goals finishing with a big goose egg in the plus/minus column.

Coach Ron Wilson was impressed but not quite sold on the efforts of his future phenom during a post-game interview. Wilson was quoted as saying, “He had a good game, but you pick your team based on a body of work,” Wilson said. “He got an opportunity to play tonight in Kris Versteeg’s spot. He scored. He made some nice plays, some nice moves. But that’s something we’ll sit down and talk about: What’s best for him and what’s best for our team."

The only questions that remain now are...

Do the Maple Leafs assign Kadri to the Toronto Marlies?

Does Nazem get one more shot playing on a less profile line?

Does Coach Wilson consider moving Kadri to the top line to start the season?

It will be interesting to see how the team shapes up in this final weekend. My guess is that you'll see Kadri start with the Marlies until he proves himself at that level. He was drafted as a center and is expected to contribute at that position. If he can't contribute without the help of guys like Kessel and Bozak then maybe he needs more experience at a lower level.