Although the off-season is far from being over, an early look at the Maple Leafs’ depth on forwards can give a good outlook for fans on what should and what should not be addressed before the start of training camp.
As of right now, the team is forced to deal with having a lot more quantity than quality. This quantity is likely going to hamper any chance that Nazem Kadri has of making the team, and sticking.
Many may say that having an abundance of forwards is a positive for the team. At this point, I’d say it is not.
There are benefits to having a lot of competition amongst your forwards, but it can also force the coaching staff and the rest of management into some hard decisions that they will not want to make. For example, Kadri looks as if he may be ready to make the jump to the NHL and stay there.
It looks as if Nazem may not have much left to learn in the minor leagues and keeping him there may negatively affect his development process. However, with the abundance of forwards, Kadri will likely have to wait for an injury before being given his shot at sticking with the club. Even then, how long until the injured player is back and waiting for his spot, leaving Kadri in the minor leagues again?
Don’t necessarily see the abundance? Well, look:
Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, James van Riemsdyk, Mikhail Grabovski, Tyler Bozak, Clarke MacArthur, Nikolai Kulemin, Tim Connolly, Matthew Lombardi, Jay McClement, David Steckel, Mike Brown and Leo Komarov.
Matt Frattin, Nazem Kadri and Carter Ashton
Now, it may not seem like that much, but if you start slotting them by position, you’ll see where it works against the organization.
Wing: Kessel, Lupul, JVR*, MacArthur, Kulemin, Brown, Komarov
Center: Grabovski, Bozak, Connolly, Lombardi, McClement, Steckel
One thing that works for Kadri may be that he can play both the wing and center. However, in order to play in a role in which Nazem can develop into the offensive forward the Maple Leafs’ brass hope he does, he has to play in a top-six role with offensive players.
Kadri may have been able to develop playing on the third line, but now keeping in mind that a typical Randy Carlyle third line is a shut-down line, it seems that Kadri is out of luck. (He will not play on the fourth line; let’s not go there.)
In order to have any type of outside shot to make the Leafs and stay there, Kadri will have to play the wing. He’ll also need to have an outstanding training camp, while hoping that someone else falls off the radar. Of course trades could come into play, but as of right now, Kadri is in tough.
There isn’t a spot for Kadri at the moment and making one won’t be too easy.