After signing a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Nazem Kadri seems to be at a fork in the road. His team realizes that at least one path could lead to riches, too.
Stats-leaning types believe that Kadri could be capable of big things, and that seemingly includes some executives in the Leafs organization. Assistant GM Kyle Dubas told Sportsnet 590 on Friday that he expects Kadri to “show a lot of people what he’s made of this year.”
“I know with Mike [Babcock], he’s put it to Naz and he expects him to be an elite player, he expects him to reach his potential, and if he does that he’s going to play a ton and he’s going to score a lot,” Dubas said. “… He’ll have the chance to take us to the bank.”
If that happens and Kadri shows that he’s worth a lot more than the $4.1 million he’ll make in 2015-16, Dubas said that the Leafs will be “happy to pay him.”
One thing seems clear: it’s tough to imagine this mulligan of a contract year going much worse than 2014-15 did.
We can spout out numbers for and against the 24-year-old, yet you only need to note how his season ended to get a picture of how rough things were. A snooze button malfunction prompted the team to suspend him and tell Kadri to “grow up.” He followed that reprimand with a suspension-worthy hit that was poorly timed, even by suspension standards. Former coach Ron Wilson also piled on for whatever reason.
Amid all that drama, Kadri only managed 39 points last season, down from 50 in 2013-14 and 44 in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.
Yep, that’s a bad year.
The talent is indeed there for a big turnaround, so here’s hoping Kadri pulls out some cool training videos like he did last summer (he’d prefer with better results):