Last Chance At the Big Dance: Leafs Recall Nazem Kadri

So, as you may have heard the Toronto Maple Leafs have recalled forward Nazem Kadri today. But first, I will summarize the Leafs’ last three games, in one word: disappointing. They went 0-2-1 over those three games being outscored 12-9. If you count the shootout goal, then it’s 13-9. But, 2 of of the three games weren’t all the goalies fault. In fact, one could argue that even the Buffalo game wasn’t Reimer’s fault. It’s been the silly penalties, bad penalty kill, defensive coverage, and (as seen in the Kings game) unlucky bounces. A few players that stood out (in a good way) were John-Michael Liles, Cody Franson, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul and Matt Frattin. A few that weren’t as impressive were Jake Gardiner, Joey Crabb, Tyler Bozak, and Clarke MacArthur.

Anyways, back to the topic at hand. Nazem Kadri was recalled today following the news that centre Philippe Dupuis has been placed on the IR with what the team is calling ‘an upper-body injury.” This comes as a bit of a shock. Not that he was recalled, but that he wasn’t recalled yesterday when Colby Armstrong was placed on IR with a concussion.

I agree with the recall of Kadri because he deserves it. He’s been playing very well in the AHL tallying 22 points (8-14) in 22 games for the Marlies, including one Play of the Month award. Marlies coach Dallas Eakins said Monday on Sportsnet 590, The Fan about Kadri’s development “Yeah, he’s taken the steps, like when he came off the injury. We got him him back and he never said it but when Naz came back down from the NHL, in the first few games it was kind of like ‘oh man, he’s back where he started’ no sense of danger, he could beat everyone by himself, he thought he was gonna come in here and rip it up. So he really struggled for the first few weeks we finally had a real blunt conversation with him and said ‘listen, if you continue to play like this, I’m not gonna play you’ and he quickly turned his ways, he got back to managing the puck better. But I’ll tell ya, this kid may be the most dangerous player in the offensive zone in this league. He has a very high skill level, he see’s plays two or three passes before they’re gonna happen and he’s getting better in his own zone, managing the puck through the neutral zone.”

The Leafs have stated previously that Nazem Kadri’s next call-up will be his last. So, that means if Kadri can produce like the team expects out of the former first round, 7th overall selection, then he should be here to stay. But if he should fail, we may see Kadri being turned into trade bait to snag another player or prospect.

Jonas Siegal of TSN 1050 (@jonastsn1050 on Twitter) said that Kadri was on a line with centre Tim Connolly and winger Clarke MacArthur at practice today. It is expected that Kadri will be in the lineup vs. the Sabres on Thursday in Toronto.

Along with the Kadri recall today, gritty centre Darryl Boyce was recalled yesterday to replace the concussed Colby Armstrong. I expect him to take Dupuis role as the 4th line centre and should help out the penalty kill and add some toughness and physicality.

With these new callups, here’s how I see the forwards looking:

Line 1:
J. Lupul- T. Bozak- P. Kessel

Line 2:
N. Kadri- T. Connolly- C. MacArthur

Line 3:
N. Kulemin- M. Grabovski- M. Frattin

Line 4:
J. Rosehill- D. Boyce- J. Crabb

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