In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs Quick Hits, I’ll take a look at former Toronto player Nazem Kadri – especially looking at how his best season with the Maple Leafs compared to the best season of his career with the Colorado Avalanche in 2021-22 and his season this year with the Calgary Flames.
Second, I’ll look at some of the changes I believe the Maple Leafs will have to make next season to the roster.
Finally, I’ll share some final thoughts about Tuesday’s game against their upcoming first-round rival Tampa Bay Lightning.
Quick Hit One: Nazem Kadri’s Best Seasons, What Do They Say?
There is no doubt that Nazem Kadri is a skilled forward who can score goals and create plays for his teammates. His best season with the Maple Leafs was in 2016-17, where he played in all 82 games and scored 32 goals, and added 29 assists (for a total of 61 points). He was also a physical presence on the ice, accumulating 95 penalty minutes that season.
In his best career season was with the Colorado Avalanche (in 2021-22). That season, Kadri scored 28 goals and added 59 assists (for a total of 87 points) in 71 games played. He had a solid plus/minus rating of +13 and fewer penalty minutes with 71.
Just finishing his current 2022-23 season with the Calgary Flames, Kadri has played in 81 games, scoring 24 goals and 31 assists (for a total of 55 points). However, his plus/minus rating is -20, which is significantly lower than in previous seasons. He has also accumulated 56 penalty minutes.
Overall, it makes me wonder whether Kadri’s season with the Avalanche was a one-off. For sure, he’s had a successful career in the NHL. Furthermore, he’s been able to score around the 50-60 point mark. But his 87-point last season now seems like a one-off. What will he be able to do next season?
Quick Hit Two: Likely Maple Leafs Changes for Next Season
The Maple Leafs have had a successful regular season and have a deep, talented, and well-balanced team. However, the pressure is on for the team to perform well in the playoffs and make a deep run. Their first-round series against the Lightning will be one of the most interesting of the post-season.
But, with whatever happens, the Maple Leafs will likely be making some changes for next season. Here are three that fans can likely count on. First, the team will likely buy out the final year of Murray’s contract. Second, the team will likely allow two players – Alex Kerfoot and Justin Holl – to leave and become unrestricted free agents.
But what about David Kampf? Although I really like both Holl and Kerfoot, it’s Kampf that I feel the team would have a harder time replacing. I’m also guessing that Kampf is also a lot better known around the NHL now than he was when he signed two seasons ago with the team.
Would his asking price be within the team’s possible salary cap space? The team will be facing a salary cap crunch, which could impact their ability to retain certain players. Would Kampf be one of those who leaves? I hope not.
Quick Hit Three: Final Thoughts About the Tampa Bay Lightning Game
The Maple Leafs’ win against the Tampa Bay Lightning was one of the most encouraging wins of the season. The undermanned team fought off a Lightning squad on their home ice with Andrei Vasilevskiy in the net.
Maple Leafs’ fill-in goalie Joe Woll deserves praise for his solid performance. In addition, there were positive moments from players such as Matthew Knies, Luke Schenn, and Jake McCabe.
But some questions remain for the postseason. Did the Maple Leafs give up too many shots on their own net; or, did the Maple Leafs’ defense do a good job in that the shots were easy for Woll to see and stop? If Knies plays in the postseason, would he be better suited on a line with Matthews and Marner?
Overall, there are good reasons for Maple Leafs’ fans to be optimistic about the postseason. The playoffs are almost here. What do these questions mean for the next few weeks? Or, do they mean anything?
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