Making sense of Nazem Kadri’s development

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Hockey-mad Toronto has a tendency to create some fascinating battles between perception and reality when it comes to the Maple Leafs. Nazem Kadri provides the latest example, as he’s a forward who’s either being sorely underrated or dramatically over-hyped depending upon who you ask.

Damien Cox caught up with Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, who insists that the franchise hasn’t lost patience with Kadri despite demoting him to the minors – again.

“Naz is going to be a good NHL player,” said Burke in an email. “But young players need to bring urgency and energy to the game, and those components have tailed off.

“He’s going to be just fine.”

Of course, there’s always the possibility that Kadri isn’t all that great to begin with.

Cox indicates that the Kadri “yo-yo” situation might constitute the latest round of shots fired in the goofy little “war” between Burke and hockey commentator Don Cherry because Cherry is a big fan of Kadri. Even after defending the way the Maple Leafs are bringing Kadri along, Cox also surmises that the center might be the prospect that Toronto moves sometime between now and the trade deadline.

All this said, nobody would be stunned if Kadri were the prospect to move if the Leafs pull the trigger on a deal. He’s going to play in the NHL. The question is whether he’s going to be able to play in Toronto for this coaching staff, or whether, as often happens with young players, he’ll need a change of scenery before the light goes on.

That said, this is also true. Kadri still needs to acquire greater body strength through training, and the lack of that may be why his “urgency and energy” haven’t been in recent days what they were when he was first recalled.

Perhaps the most interesting thing to come from a trade would be a more sober assessment of what Kadri’s actually capable of. For better or worse, it’s unlikely that Toronto will provide the most “balanced” viewpoint of that player.