After surprising much of the hockey world with a rousing 4-0-1 start, reality is slapping the poorly designed Toronto Maple Leafs in constant, embarrassing swipes. They’ve gone a pitiful 1-7-2 since earning nine out of a possible 10 points in the first five games of the season, scoring only 15 goals in that 10-game stretch of futility. Only the New Jersey Devils scored less (29) goals than the Leafs (32) so far this season.
Some might think it’s a sign that Brian Burke & Co. are pushing the panic button, but however you slice it, there is big news out of Toronto. After flopping a bit during the preseason and finding himself demoted for the first month-plus of the 2010-11 season, 2009 first round draft pick Nazem Kadri is back with the team after being recalled with Keith Aulie.
When you play in a hockey-crazed market like Toronto, you have to expect some scrutiny … especially when you’re a rare first round pick in an era in which the team hasn’t made the playoffs since before the lockout. That’s the situation Kadri finds himself in; every misstep will be over-analyzed as if the young pivot is the Prime Minister of Hockey.
To his credit, Kadri has been doing well in the minors. He’s averaging a point per game with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, with five goals and nine assists for 14 points in 14 games.
Of course, it’s often a big jump from the AHL to the NHL and many wonder if this move will stunt the prospect’s growth. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, as Kadri will make his 2010-11 NHL premiere tomorrow night against the Vancouver Canucks.