Aug 8, 2013, 4:31 PM EST
The optimists will say Nazem Kadri finally proved he belonged in the NHL last year. They’ll point out the 18 goals and 26 assists he scored in 48 games, his 44 points ranking him second on the Maple Leafs behind Phil Kessel‘s 52. And they’ll conclude that former general manager Brian Burke was wise to make Kadri the seventh overall pick in 2009.
The skeptics, on the other hand, won’t be so sure. They’ll note that Kadri’s shooting percentage of 16.8 percent was abnormally high compared to the league average. They’ll say he was lucky. And they’ll argue the 22-year-old will be hard-pressed to match last year’s rate of production in 2013-14.
Who’s right? Who’s wrong? At this point, who knows?
But this is what happens to high draft picks in hockey-mad markets like Toronto. Everything they achieve, or fail to achieve — right down to the appropriate percentage of body fat — is pored over by fans and media.
“It was tough on me for a little bit,” Kadri admitted in February, per the Globe and Mail. “I really don’t think a lot of other people could have been under the scrutiny and under the pressure and have that mental toughness to prevail.”
Plenty of scrutiny and pressure remains in his future though. Early speculation has him centering a line between Joffrey Lupul and David Clarkson, a pair of wingers to which the club has committed a total of $63 million in new contracts. It’s a great opportunity for Kadri, but like they say, to whom much is given, much is expected.
First things first — Kadri, a restricted free agent, needs a new contract for himself.
“We’re in conversation and there’s still some work to be done, but we’re talking and that’s the most important thing,” he said on July 12.
Chances are, a deal will be struck in time for training camp. But getting that done will be the easy part. The hard part will be proving the skeptics wrong.
More Leafs day on PHT:
- Video: Zidlicky’s first goal with Detroit gives Red Wings OT win over Rangers 30
- Video: P.K. Subban illustrates hockey instincts through GoPro camera perspective 3
- Video: Lundqvist could be back in 10 to 14 days 7
- Isles’ Martin suspended one game for ‘reckless’ knee on Daley 12
- More bad luck for the B’s — Connolly out 6 weeks with fractured finger 24
- Fehr willing to give Panthers ‘a reasonable opportunity’ to redevelop market 51
- Video: Isles’ Martin to face hearing for ‘stupid’ knee-on-knee hit 39
- NHL on NBCSN: Reloaded Red Wings, Rangers set to battle tonight 51
- Bernier bests Panthers as Luongo goes from injured (and in street clothes) to back in net 4
- Phaneuf, Cuthbert and Lupul threaten lawsuit after tweet goes to air 59
- Wild beat Avs, dying seconds fight set stage for rematch (171)
- Petrovic: Chicago will ‘probably seek revenge’ for Kane injury tonight (82)
- Winners and losers of the 2015 trade deadline (78)
- Trade: Blackhawks acquire Vermette from Arizona for Dahlbeck, first rounder (74)
- Wings get Zidlicky from Devils (74)