Friday, November 12, 2010

What's My Scene?

The Leafs don’t have a lot of prospects in the system. Trading away eight of your 10 first round draft picks in a decade can sneak up on you like that.

Forward Nazem Kadri is the closest thing the Leafs have to a blue chip talent.

You’d think when prospects are this scarce their optimal development would be an organizational priority.

But you’d be wrong.

Nazem Kadri gets his second taste of NHL action Saturday night when my beloved Maple Leafs take on the Vancouver Canucks at the ACC. His promotion comes despite Brian Burke and the coach of the Marlies both conceding that Kadri’s not quite ready for prime time. Burke went so far as to say that in an ideal world, Kadri wouldn’t be getting this shot with the big club.

Sadly, under Burke’s management, words like “ideal” and “Leafs” only seem to come together when back-up goalies talk about upcoming opportunities to snare a shut-out.

Now, I don’t think Kadri’s premature promotion will ruin him or his future. I don’t think this is a make it break it moment for the player or the franchise. But I do wonder why Burke and that big brain trust he’s assembled down at the ACC are willing to make such a questionable decision about one of their scarcest resources.

Or perhaps I just underestimate the importance of game 16 in the 2010-11 season.

For me, it comes down to this: if you put player development on a continuum, with the ideal conditions for player success at one end and the worst possible conditions at the other, the decision to promote Kadri falls a little too close to the mid-point than I'm comfortable with. It's not like the Leafs get multiple shots at bringing their youngsters along or like there's plenty more where Kadri came from.

But when the GM and President of your favourite team thinks he can fast track a rebuild, I guess one shouldn’t be surprised to find out the same GM thinks he can fast track player development too.

I can only hope Burke's player development results are better than his 42-54-23 record with the Leafs.


  1. Well, it IS November, and we all know how much games in this month matter.

  2. Paul Steckley6:11 pm

    I was surprised by Kadri's call up as well and also question whether it was the best move. I can see the argument for it, in that you don't want to get out of the race for a playoff spot this early, he was playing fairly well with the Marlies, and no one else was really providing an offensive spark. Whether it was a coincidence or not, the Leafs did score 3 goals on Luongo in his first game. But for a very bad goal by Giguere, they may even have won that game, or at least picked up another loser point in OT or a shootout.

    Time will tell if the call up will benefit or set back Kadri's development but he didn't look out of place (other than his brain freeze on that 3 on 1). As the game progressed and he became more comfortable, he started to make some nice passes and generated some offence. He still gets knocked over very easily so I hope he learns how to slip out of some of that body contact.

    One thing about Kadri, though, is he has the confidence to make it in the NHL, which is not something that a lot of the wasted youth from Leaf past had. I hope he doesn't lose it by being called up this soon.