Up until this point, the most memorable part of Nazem Kadri’s career is when Leafs GM Brian Burke asked Senators GM Bryan Murray who he was going to take in the 2009 Entry Draft—only to shoot him down on national television. He hopes to change all that this season as he aims to put his best foot forward during Toronto’s training camp this month. There aren’t many spots up for grabs this season after the Leafs acquired the likes of Matthew Lombardi and Tim Connolly this offseason. Kadri knows that he’ll need to step up his game if he wants to impress management and earn a permanent spot on the NHL roster this year.
The 20-year-old forward appeared in 29 total games for the Leafs last season. He played in 17 games in November/December before he was sent down to the Toronto Marlies to refine his game—due in large part because he only collected two assists in the final month before demoted. The former seventh overall pick played better when management brought him up for another look in mid-March. He collected three goals and three assists in 12 games to finish the 2010-11 campaign. The cup of coffee with the big club gave him all the motivation he needed for the offseason:
“I’m coming in expecting there to be zero jobs left and for me to steal one,” Kadri said. “Obviously (to get demoted) would be extremely disappointing. I want to be a regular 82-plus-playoff games player in the NHL. That’s why I worked so hard this summer — to prove a point.
“Now I what to show everybody that I’m here to stay.”
It’s good that Kadri is coming into camp with a certain sense of desperation because management isn’t messing around this week. The team is bringing in about 70 players—but most of them better not get too comfortable. Ron Wilson told QMI that the cuts are going to come fast and furious for the first week as the trim the roster to a manageable number:
“What I’ve stressed with management, when Wednesday rolls around, we’re going to be down to 40 guys,” Wilson said Friday at the MasterCard Centre where the team reported for physical testing. “By next weekend, we’ll be down to 26 or 27 players.
“I’m cutting right through all the B.S., and getting right down to the NHL players. I’m not worried about where we are going to be in two or three years. My primary responsibility is this year and getting off to a quick start.”
No pressure there. Have a bad day and you could be gone. Then again, for anyone who’s going to play a full season in Toronto, they should get used to that kind of daily scrutiny. Rumor has it the Toronto media judges swiftly and harshly.
As far as Kadri goes, a spot on the Leafs should be his to lose. The left wing spot on the 3rd line is waiting to be claimed and Kadri’s speed would be a welcomed asset in any capacity. But just as important as his skill set is the way he is viewed by management. There’s no question they want the high draft pick to make the team and succeed. The Leafs prospect pool has been improving over the last couple of season and Kadri is the best of the lot.
If he can prove that he belongs on the team, it will look good for the rest of their mini-redevelopment project.
Brandon Dubinsky has been suspended one game for his cross-check to the back of Sidney Crosby‘s neck.
The incident took place during the second period of Friday’s game.
Crosby did head to the locker room after the play, but he was able to return.
When deciding on the number of games to give Dubinsky, here’s what the NHL took into account:
- Dubinsky delivered a clear cross-check.
- Dubinsky has been fined before, but never suspended.
- Crosby wasn’t seriously injured on the play.
“In this case, while Dubinsky’s cross-check isn’t overly violent or forceful, it is an intentional strike to an opponent’s head using his stick,” the NHL said in their explanation of the play. “This is not a case where the head contact was caused by a sudden movement by Crosby or by a stick riding up a player’s back or shoulders and making subsequent contact with the head.”
Click on the video at the top of the page to watch the NHL’s full explanation.
The Blue Jackets take on the Blues in St. Louis tonight.
The Edmonton Oilers activated defenseman Justin Schultz off injured reserve and assigned Griffin Reinhart to the minors.
Schultz has missed the last 14 games because of a back injury, but he’ll suit up in Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The 25-year-old has one assist and a minus-6 rating in nine games in ’15-16.
Here’s his interview with Oilers TV from earlier today:
Reinhart was acquired in an off-season trade with the New York Islanders this summer.
The former fourth overall pick has no points and a minus-1 rating in 12 games with the Oilers.
James Reimer (lower body) won’t be available to play in Saturday’s game against Washington.
Reimer was injured during a team practice earlier this week and although the injury didn’t appear to be serious, it will prevent him from suiting up in at least one game.
The Leafs originally thought that the 27-year-old would be good to go for this tilt, but head coach Mike Babcock said Reimer didn’t feel good enough to play.
Reimer’s emerged as the go-to-guy for the Maple Leafs this season and for good reason.
He has 7-3-4 record with a 2.07 goals-against-average and a .934 save percentage in 15 games.
Another reason the Leafs have been counting on him so much is because Jonathan Bernier‘s been awful.
Bernier will get another opportunity to prove himself on Saturday night, but he faces a stiff test against Alex Ovechkin and company.
The 27-year-old has an 0-7-1 record with a 3.17 goals-against-average and a .895 save percentage in ’15-16.
In a corresponding move, the Leafs sent defenseman Scott Harrington to the minors and recalled goalie Garret Sparks.
Sparks was Toronto’s seventh round pick in 2011.
The 22-year-old has an 8-2-1 record with the Toronto Marlies this season.
The Rangers are getting ready for their second straight matinee game on Saturday, but head coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t done addressing yesterday’s loss to the Bruins.
After Friday’s game, Bruins coach Claude Julien wasn’t pleased with Henrik Lundqvist‘s “acting” that led to a goalie interference penalty being called on forward Brad Marchand (above) and he let everyone know it in his postgame press conference.
On Saturday, it was Alain Vigneault’s turn to lash out.
“Well, (the Rangers public relations staff) filled me in a little bit on what was said after the game,” Vigneault said via the New York Daily News. “I mean it’s a little disappointing. Obviously everybody saw the knee to the head. The comments on Hank were very inappropriate. The way Hank conducts himself, on the ice, away from the rink, off the ice, the example that he sets. Who would you rather have as a son, Henrik Lundqvist or Brad Marchand? For him to say things like that about Hank, totally wrong, and probably Claude is getting a little older and needs to check his eyesight.”
The Rangers will take on the Flyers at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.