In a somewhat surprising move, Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Bruke has recalled prospect Nazem Kadri from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.
The move comes as a surprise to many since Kadri was so harshly criticized by the Toronto media for his poor play during the preseason. Kadri, who played five preseason games with the Leafs, collected two goals and one assist during that span. The 20-year-old was sent back to the minors where he could continue his development in a more significant fashion with more ice time on a nightly basis.
When prompted about sending Kadri back to the minors before the start of the NHL season, Burke responded by saying, “We believe in Nazem as a hockey player and a person, he’s going to be fine. He’s not ready to play in the top six right just yet.”
Kadri’s recall shows how desperate the Leafs are to get back on track. With 14 points in 14 games with the Marlies, the Leafs are hoping that Kadri might help spark their struggling offense.
After starting the season out with four straight wins, the team has been in a free fall since by accumulating a 1-7-2 record over their past ten games. The loss of captain Dion Phaneuf certainly didn’t help matters, but during that stretch the team has managed to average scoring a little over a goal per game while allowing almost three goals per game – not to mention the Leafs have been shut out twice over the last ten-game span.
Coach Ron Wilson may look to reinvent some of his lines with the addition of Kadri, who might even see time centering the slumping Phil Kessel, who has been pointless in his last seven games. If the Leafs intend to get back on track after their skid, they need Kessel to get going and help lead the offense on a nightly basis.
The Leafs are off tonight, but Kadri will be in the lineup for the team on Saturday when they host the Vancouver Canucks.