Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Who needs talent?

Justin Smith

Judging by the last post on the Review, it seems I was not alone in thinking that the Leafs had nowhere to go but up, just three short weeks ago.

How sad it is for me to write this, that this team could go in the wrong direction so fast. The Leafs were third in their division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. The key word here is 'were' and for fans it is the third time in as many years they have had to endure a collapse from this team one way or another.

That is not what this post is about though, frankly the topic has been over discussed over the last week. There needs to be some realism brought to the situation going forward though. With growing speculation on who is staying and who is gone, the guesses get more ridiculous each passing day.

Why are there so many people so keen on having Dave Nonis ship Nazem Kadri out of town as fast as possible? How can these people logistically defend their position of trading him. I only say so because to me the thought of seeing Kadri traded seems ludicrous.

Yes the Leafs have had a bad season, and it has only gotten worse as the campaign has wore on. Defensively they were never good, at all, ever. If you thought they were, then you were watching the team through rose-coloured glasses this season. The fact the team had no ability in the least to play defence is not a good enough reason for me to trade my second-line centre. For clarification, Kadri is 23-years-old and is very capable of being a two-way scoring centre. How do I now this? Just look at the stats from last year. Kadri was second only to Mark Fraser (defenceman) in +/- through the shortened season.

"But Justin, the whole team was playing better defensively, so obviously that stat is a bit over-exaggerated."


Would you like to know Mikhail Grabovski's +/-? (-10)
How about Dion Phaneuf's? (-4)
Phil Kessel? (-3)
James van Reimsdyk? (-7)

Oh wait, what about the one guy that seems to be standing in Kadri's way? I bet Tyler Bozak was better defensively last season right? Nope. (-1)

My point is simply that in a half-season that was widely considered successful for the team, only one forward reached double-digits in +/-. So to all of those people saying he is a defensive liability, he isn't. As a matter of fact, one could argue that the team played as well as they did because of Kadri's improved play. It sure wasn't Kessel or JVR who brought that defensive part to the game. Aren't they supposed to be untouchable because they are so important to the team? If that truly is the case, then I think it's about time the fans and media alike start thinking of Kadri in that same light. This season was pretty horrible to watch at times; is it so incomprehensible that Kadri 'ONLY' was able to score 50 points in his first full year as a Leaf?

In order to play devils advocate, I am willing entertain possible trade scenarios for those of you who are utterly convinced it will happen

What return would you want?

        - Nazem Kadri, Carter Ashton and a first round pick in 2014.


          Kevin Bieksa, a second round pick in 2014

That is literally the best trade scenario I could come up with, and I still wouldn't do it if I'm the Leafs. Heck, I don't think I would even do it if I'm the Canucks. Assuming of course that this 'IS' the deal, the Leafs get their 'D' man. Here's the problem though, who is going to play centre? Bolland?

Not at 5.25 million dollars a season and certainly not for seven more years. Has it been so long already that we forgot the value a delusional Nonis put on Clarkson before considering what he is on THIS team.

So let me get this straight:

1. You want Bozak as your number one centre, with nobody who potentially could step up in a few years, waiting behind him?

2. You also want to replace the second-line centre position with an injury prone soon-to be 30 year-old centre; who has never been anything other than a third liner in his professional career.

Sounds like bad business to me.

My point, subtle or not folks, is to not trade Nazem Kadri for anything.
In closing I have only two words for unconvinced readers:

Alexander Steen...

or if you need a little more heartache...

Tuukka Rask


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