Nazem Kadri Called Up By Toronto Maple Leafs: Where Does He Fit?
It wasn't too long ago that Brian Burke said two to three months would be a good estimate on how much longer Nazem Kadri would spend in the American Hockey League. It also wasn't too long ago that the Toronto Maple Leafs said that Nazem Kadri would not play if they don't think he is worthy of being a top-six forward.
However, with the way the Maple Leafs have been producing lately, it seems as though anyone could be a top-six forward for them.
Tyler Bozak, who was expected to centre the team's top line this season playing between Phil Kessel and Kris Versteeg, has only five points, including just two goals and a plus/minus rating of minus-four. That coming after a rookie season which saw him put up 27 points in 37 games, including eight goals. There is no question he will improve, whether it's with the Maple Leafs or the Marlies.
Fortunately for the Maple Leafs, they still have Mikhail Grabovski. Unfortunately, however, the 26-year-old Grabovski still isn't a top-line centre, despite his nine points and a plus-seven rating in 15 games so far.
After Bozak and Grabovski, the Maple Leafs' level of talent at the centre position drops off dramatically, with the likes of John Mitchell and Tim Brent. Even with that being said, it's highly unlikely Burke and head coach Ron Wilson want Bozak playing on the third or fourth line.
So, with the top two spots supposedly taken up by Bozak and Grabovski, and Kadri unwanted if he isn't playing top-six minutes, where will the former London Knight play?
Well, you could stick him on the wing. This way he could play with a speedy winger and a speedy centre, like Clarke MacArthur and Grabovski. But given Bozak's recent play, could coach Wilson be thinking about scratching him for a game or two?
Although most would be quick to say no, it could actually help. Scratching Bozak, who was signed out of the University of Denver, would allow him time to find his game again and get back to the way he was playing during his rookie season. The move would also allow Kadri about a week's worth of playing time, giving him more valuable NHL experience at his natural position.
Now, with the confusion and controversy surrounding this move, and the team in general, was it the right decision to call up Nazem Kadri?
Most likely not.
Kadri, who was not very impressive with the Leafs in the preseason, played in just 14 games for the Marlies before getting the call. Although his AHL numbers are impressive, Kadri did not overly impress the Maple Leafs brass during his time in the minors, but instead he did just what they asked.
It seems more sensible to give him more time to develop, does it not? There is no doubt this move was made out of desperation.
What do you think? Was it the right decision to call up Kadri? If so, where does he fit in?
**Follow Lukas on Twitter @SportsHazeLukas for breaking hockey news and rumors, as well as Toronto Maple Leafs game updates. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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