As we’re all aware, Nazem Kadri headlines the current Maple Leafs young prospect pool. But behind him are some guys who really have started to tune up their game before making the jump to professional hockey in the coming year. One way or another, many Leaf prospects will come into the fold with either the Marlies or the big club next season. The time couldn’t be better for GM Brian Burke, who really needs results as fast as they can happen. After handing the Boston Bruins Tyler Seguin this summer, Burke requires a turn-around for the blue & white in the worst kind of way. Most (or all) of the prospects we have right now will not have any effect on the Maple Leafs point total directly next season, but the competition they add to the organization as a whole will keep the franchise on the proper path for success. But for Kadri, the bar is set a little higher and he will have Ron Wilson in a fit next Fall trying to figure out what to do with the highest touted prospect the Leafs have had in over a decade.
Nazem Kadri (1st round, 2009 NHL Draft, 7th overall)
Born: October 6, 1990 – London, ONT
Tale of the tape: 6’1″, 180 pounds
Easily the top Maple Leafs prospect right now. With Kadri you get versatility and creativity. His ability to flow in and out of centre and the wing makes him a treat for the coaching staff at any level. Naz has stated his intent to add on 12-15 pounds in the off-season in hopes of cracking the Leafs lineup outright in October. If he stays true to his word, he might give Ron Wilson no choice but to keep him with the big club. Already with great vision and a wizard with the puck; a bigger, stronger Kadri will be hard to turn away from the Leafs weak forward corps. Kadri was up to his usual tricks by racking up 27 points in 12 playoff games for the Knights this year, after collecting 93 points in 56 games during the regular season. The stat that jumps out to me a little is penalty minutes. Naz went from 31 PIM in 2008-09, to 105PIM in 2009-10. Quite the jump. Though Kadri seems like a very passionate player so it should be no surprise. Here’s a guy that wants to win and wants to play in pressure situations. Bring it on Naz, we’re all amped up to watch you in blue & white.
Of the other Leafs prospects (Paradis, D. Mitchell, Hayes, etc) who do you think can crack the big club or who is going to be playing with the Marlies? I think Mitchell, Dido, and Hayes are all definite Marlies next season and may get a few games with the Leafs. If stupid John Mitchell wasn't holding up a roster spot, maybe one of these guys would have a chance. I'm gonna puke if John Mitchell is re-signed. Anyone else share my sickness?