The Toronto Maple Leafs once made a very solid trade for a player who everyone knew they were moving and who, subsequently, didn’t have the trade value he should have.
After being suspended in two straight playoff series, the Toronto Maple Leafs had to trade Nazem Kadri.
I guess they could have kept him, but it just seemed as if the relationship had run its course. Missing two straight game-sevens seems like something that would almost always prompt a change of scenery – but it’s a pretty rare scenario, so who really knows?
Nazem Kadri is one of my all-time favorite Leafs, I didn’t want him to get traded, but it seemed inevitable at that point.
The Leafs probably would have won two playoff series with their current core if Nazem Kadri was a more mature player, and they might have won two other ones if they kept him. It really was a lose-lose situation for the Leafs with Kadri.
Kadri is having an amazing season, and that is awesome. He’s a great guy, a great player and I remain a huge fan. But lost in the Kadri hype is Alex Kerfoot’s career year.
Toronto Maple Leafs and Alex Kerfoot
Kadri is flashy, but most of his value comes from his offense. The Post-Kadri Leafs have the best offense in the NHL, and the best power-play. While we, the fans, miss him, the team doesn’t (well they didn’t before this year, but that’s kind of out of nowhere).
At 5v5, Kerfoot and Kadri (at least prior to this season) scored at about the same rate, but Kerfoot provided much better defense. Since the Leafs weren’t and aren’t missing Kadri’s power-play skill, they actually were doing alright with this trade, because Kerfoot’s defense is better and he’s younger and cheaper. (stats naturalstattrick.com).
Kadri’s season this year makes all comparisons ridiculous, but you still might be shocked to learn that Kerfoot currently has 31 points in 42 games. His 2.72 points per 60 is way above a first-line scoring rate, and, obviously, a career high. He has a 58% puck-possession rating, and an expected-goals rating of 52%.
With a Game Score of 1.4 WINS so far, and on pace for over 2, Kerfoot is a top 70-90 player in the NHL this season. (From the Athletic‘s Player Cards, which you need a subscription for, and which I can’t, subsequently, link to).
Now, of course Nazem Kadri is on pace for 5 WINS and maybe even a Hart Trophy, but if you’re mad that it’s happening in Colorado and not Toronto, blame Kadri for getting suspended, and remember, he probably would still be here otherwise.
Kerfoot may not be Kadri, but he’s a really good complimentary player having a career season. Now, could the Leafs trade him at the peak of his value and improve their roster? They probably could, but for now, let’s just enjoy his best season to date.