Toronto Maple Leafs: Could Nazem Kadri be Traded?

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 10: Nazem Kadri
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 10: Nazem Kadri /

John Tavares, Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri give the Toronto Maple Leafs the deepest group of centres in the NHL.

The only problem with that is that one of the Toronto Maple Leafs best young players – William Nylander – is a centre and not a winger.

Now, don’t get me wrong here: I do not want the Leafs to trade Kadri.  Kadri is the home-grown player I’ve wanted the Leafs to draft and develop my entire life.  I began my writing career when he was still struggling under Randy Carlyle and I’ve written about how he is better than received for years.

I even wrote that Kadri was better than Ryan Johansson and Matt Duchene back when such a take was controversial.  I enjoyed watching Kadri prove me correct more than you could know.

Kadri is one of just eight centres to score over 30 goals in back-to-back years, he’s on one of the cheapest, most value laden, team-friendly contracts in the NHL.

He’s also probably my favorite player, so I hope I am wrong here.

But he seems like the most obvious player the Leafs have to get what they need.

Trading Kadri

I hope that the Leafs keep Kadri for his entire career, but let’s look into why he’s a very good candidate to be traded.

Kadri has another 3 years left on a $4.5 million dollar/year contract that should get his agent fired.  This would make him extremely valuable as a trade chip.  A 30 goal scorer in his prime who is either a high-end #2 or a low-end #3.

  • Teams want players age 27-30.
  • Teams want players with affordable contracts which give them multiple seasons, but not massive commitments.
  • 30 goal centres are rare.

As such, there would be a huge market for Kadri, and he would bring back a lot in trade.

And the Leafs have his replacement on the roster.  Additionally, if you are going to pay Nylander for eight years, it’s better to commit to a centre than to a winger.

Regardless of whether it’s Kadri or Nylander at 3C, the Leafs would still have the best centre depth in the NHL.   A player like Connor Brown might not have much trade value, but he’s surely wasted on a 4th line, so moving Nylander to C makes room for him.  (Marner, Hyman, Kapanen, Johnsson, Marleau, Brown is a very good three lines worth of wingers).

Finally, the Toronto Maple Leafs are weak at defense and deep at centre, so it makes sense to make a move from a position of strength for one of weakness.


I don’t want the Leafs to trade Kadri, but they clearly cannot go into the upcoming season with their current defense.  Additionally, with three years left and about to start his age 27 season, Kadri’s value will never be higher.  His contract makes him worth even more.

With an obvious replacement on the roster (Nylander) this move makes even more sense.  Some will say that the Leafs can’t afford to lose their “shut down” centre, but the fact is Kadri isn’t a very good defensive centre.

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He’s OK, he’s not great.  With Tavares and Matthews available, it won’t make any sense for Babcock to line-match at home and decrease his two star centre’s icetime in order to get Kadri out against other teams top lines.  Especially when Tavares/Matthews will dominate most other teams top lines anyways.

I would hate for the Leafs to lose Kadri, but it might be a necessary reality.