Nazem Kadri’s Draft Class

Jonathan Willis
October 03 2011 06:29PM

How does Nazem Kadri compare with his draft class?

The first four players taken in the 2009 Draft are all established NHL’ers at this point. John Tavares, Victor Hedman, Matt Duchene and Evander Kane have all played more than 100 games, and all are being relied on to play an important role in their respective clubs’ seasons this year.

Beyond that, the picture gets a little murkier, as we see when we look at the cluster of players drafted around Kadri:

  • 5th overall – Brayden Schenn – Schenn played one NHL game in 2009-10, and eight games in 2010-11; both seasons he ended up going back to junior after failing to cut it with the Kings. This summer, he was sent to Philadelphia in the Mike Richards deal, and while he’s battled injuries it isn’t clear that he’ll make the opening night roster this season.
  • 6th overall – Oliver Ekman-Larsson – The defenseman stayed in Europe immediately after his draft year, putting up decent numbers in Sweden’s second-best hockey league. He split last season between the AHL and NHL, and routinely saw his ice-time sharply curtailed when he did play in the big leagues. He’ll start the year with Phoenix.
  • 7th overall – Nazem Kadri - Spent most of last season in the AHL, was in tough for an NHL job before getting hurt.
  • 8th overall – Scott Glennie – Glennie hasn’t got a sniff at NHL duty since being drafted, and went scoreless in four AHL games last year. He’s fighting post-concussion symptoms now, but will start the year in the AHL when healthy.
  • 9th overall – Jared Cowen – Cowen’s played one NHL game since being drafted, but thanks to a strong training camp (although the injury to Matt Carkner didn’t hurt his chances either) will start 2011-12 with Ottawa.
  • 10th overall – Magnus Paajarvi – Played a strong rookie campaign with the Oilers last season, although he was overshadowed by guys like Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. Is clearly on the right track.

Beyond that group, most of the other first-rounders are still trying to find their feet as professionals. Ryan Ellis (11th overall) was sent down by the Predators. Calvin de Haan (12th overall) was sent down by the Islanders. Zack Kassian (13th overall) was sent down by the Sabres. For all but a handful, it’s the same story across the board: either they aren’t in the big leagues yet, or their grip on a roster spot is a little tenuous. Guys like Dmitri Kulikov (15th overall, Florida) and Marcus Johansson (24th overall, Washington) are the exception rather than the rule.

When someone like Michael Traikos writes that Kadri is a “growing concern” for the Leafs, it shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. He highlights valid worries, and until such time as Kadri establishes himself as an NHL player, those are concerns worth noting.  If he's not strong enough, or not good enough defensively, or whatever the case may be, that does matter. 

Still, it needs to be kept in the proper perspective. Kadri isn’t exactly getting lapped by his draft class, and a lot of the criticism of his game can be applied to other players too.

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Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#1 They're $hittie
October 03 2011, 06:55PM
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terrible rebuild by the leafs

i will take any of the last 5 first picks of the oilers over the leafs last 5. This is what happens when burke doesnt know who he is picking and only took the player to spite the senators.

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#2 BlindSIght
October 03 2011, 07:09PM
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The guy above me has no idea what he's talking about.

Good comparison. Its nice (in a context) to see that Nazem isn't being outrun by those drafed around him. He needs a chance to break out.

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#3 Danny Gray
October 03 2011, 07:20PM
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Nice work Jonathan. I'm not too worried about Kadri, people put too much focus on draft position due to the cognitive bias know as Anchoring. He's right on track. As least he's not Gilbert Brule.

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#4 They're $hittie
October 03 2011, 07:42PM
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@Danny Gray

i agree brule sucks, but has still done a lot more in the nhl then kadri.

and brule was cut by the oilers, kadri is the hope for the leafs. terrible.

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#5 RexLibris
October 03 2011, 08:00PM
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I remember when Kadri was drafted and there were some comments made from the guys at TSN that it seemed to them as a bit of a reach pick and that they figured someone like Paajarvi would have been a better pick at that position. It seemed like the Oilers were genuinely (because I know that it often isn't the case) happy that MPS fell to them.

For Kadri's draft class I would say that the Glennie pick is the one that appears on track to be the biggest fail thus far. That being said, let's wait another five years and see if that gives some better perspective.

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#6 Pension Plan Puppets
October 03 2011, 08:28PM
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@RexLibris

Yeah, I thought that MPS was going to be the pick too.

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#7 Pension Plan Puppets
October 03 2011, 08:29PM
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@They're $hittie

And you'll probably take the next five first rounders the Oilers make too because with Tambellini and Lowe in charge they'll likely be lottery picks.

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#8 Pension Plan Puppets
October 03 2011, 08:30PM
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@They're $hittie

I don't think you're understanding that he's not actually off track.

Here's another look at Kadri's results so far compared to some comparable forwards: http://theleafsnation.com/2011/8/30/nazem-kadris-rookie-season-comparables

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#9 They're $hittie
October 03 2011, 09:38PM
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@Pension Plan Puppets

never did i say he was off track, i was implying that burke took him to spite the senators. watch the video of the draft. it is painfully obvious that burke was trying to suck a trade out of them and that is why he ended up picking him.

also what has burke done, he inheirited the ducks and had lowes hands tied with the pronger trade. he did not draft getzaf, he did not draft corey perry as a late round steal. he drafted bobby ryan. not hard to do when you look at a central scouting report.

how well is komisarek doing, (you guys keep telling yourself that te kessel trade wa good). i will give you the win in the poop for poop trade with calgary but phanuef has been several times voted as the most over rated player in the league.

so put all yourhopes in a softmore goalie who had no option but to play well. he may be good again this year but to keep pace with his performance last year is not likely. and also keep hope and keep having toronto media writing that kadri will soon be mentioned in the likes of stamkos ovechkin and crosby.

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#10 homemadewaffles
October 03 2011, 10:34PM
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What's softmore

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#11 striker777
October 04 2011, 01:38AM
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I'll say what I said in the year Kadri was drafted: taking him ahead of Paajarvi and Cowan was sheer madness. 2 more years before Burke is fired.

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#12 jaredoflondon
October 04 2011, 06:30AM
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Lol @ Phaneufblows what a maroon

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#13 The '67 Sound
October 04 2011, 06:45AM
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@They're $hittie

I love it when poor spelling and grammar actually are reflective of the depth and insight (or lack thereof) offered by the writer. Thanks!

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#14 SkinnyFish
October 04 2011, 06:51AM
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The '67 Sound wrote:

I love it when poor spelling and grammar actually are reflective of the depth and insight (or lack thereof) offered by the writer. Thanks!

phaneufblows is like the anti-FLYERROB; absolutely no capitalization.

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#15 leafer1984
October 04 2011, 07:18AM
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"he did not draft corey perry as a late round steal."

Perry was a first round pick...

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#16 1967ers
October 04 2011, 08:25AM
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phanuefblows? Who is phanuef?

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#17 CdnBarbarian
October 04 2011, 08:28AM
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I thought Kadri looked good at the end of the year, I also think it's generally a good idea to have guys spend time in the AHL, so to me Kadri is right on track. Is he a Stamkos or Crosby? No. Absolutely not. That doesn't make him a bust at 21.

He looked really good in the preseason from what I watched, he looks more poised with the puck, his speed and puck handling skills were creating chances. He looks physically stronger and generally seems more confident out there.

For my money he looked great and was the best player on the ice at times this preseason and I'm 100% sure he'd be starting on the third line with Bozer and Army on opening day if we were fully healthy (and not suspended).

That being said, I'm not predicting a Calder season from him, but a solid rookie year where I'm sure he'll have his ups and downs. It's not for another two years I expect to see what Kadri will really be in the NHL.

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#18 Neil Meneses
October 04 2011, 10:00AM
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@Phanuefblows

It's okay to have an anti-Leafs opinion.

It's not okay to write like an idiot.

Your arguements are stale.

Bugger off.

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#19 BCapp
October 04 2011, 11:02AM
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They're $hittie wrote:

terrible rebuild by the leafs

i will take any of the last 5 first picks of the oilers over the leafs last 5. This is what happens when burke doesnt know who he is picking and only took the player to spite the senators.

You do realize that the Oil's last 5 picks (I assume you mean first rounders, otherwise your comment is truly inane) includes 2 first overalls?

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#20 BCapp
October 04 2011, 11:03AM
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Pension Plan Puppets wrote:

Yeah, I thought that MPS was going to be the pick too.

Me too. To be honest I was a little disappointed.

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#21 BCapp
October 04 2011, 11:07AM
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They're $hittie wrote:

never did i say he was off track, i was implying that burke took him to spite the senators. watch the video of the draft. it is painfully obvious that burke was trying to suck a trade out of them and that is why he ended up picking him.

also what has burke done, he inheirited the ducks and had lowes hands tied with the pronger trade. he did not draft getzaf, he did not draft corey perry as a late round steal. he drafted bobby ryan. not hard to do when you look at a central scouting report.

how well is komisarek doing, (you guys keep telling yourself that te kessel trade wa good). i will give you the win in the poop for poop trade with calgary but phanuef has been several times voted as the most over rated player in the league.

so put all yourhopes in a softmore goalie who had no option but to play well. he may be good again this year but to keep pace with his performance last year is not likely. and also keep hope and keep having toronto media writing that kadri will soon be mentioned in the likes of stamkos ovechkin and crosby.

Not sure why I am bothering with this but:

He brought in Niedermeyer and Pronger to the ducks which was probably the most important part of that team.

In Vancouver he basically built the current team: He drafted (by moving hell and high water), the sedins, Kesler, and I believe Alexander Edler.

On the Leafs he has won the majority of his trades (the Beauchemin trade being a UFA he turned into a 25 goal scorer and top prospect).

The Kaberle trade he turned into 2 first rounders and Liles for a year, in exchange for 3 months of Kaberle (more of a win-win as Boston got the cup). Interestingly Liles had rouhgly the same amount of points as Kaberle last year.

etc etc....

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#22 RexLibris
October 04 2011, 12:59PM
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I'm not sure why I'm weighing in on this but what the heck...

I'm not trolling here, I'm just trying to give both sides of the story.

I've never been a big Brian Burke fan (not because I'm an Oilers fan). He has managed to make good teams, not great ones. He put together some touches on the winning Ducks team but the Pronger move was really what put them over the top and once again, he got that deal done partly on the basis of his (past-tense) friendship with Lowe. I believe he will manage to make the Leafs better, but they were pretty darn awful before, so I don't think he deserves to be spoken of in the same light as Nill or even Wilson who have consistently put together good teams. In that regard I kind of agree with PB.

With regards to the Oilers, they were an awful team trending down before Tambellini got there. Lowe put together a very well-balanced team for one year and they got lucky, after that it was all bailing water to stay afloat (see also: Flames, Calgary). We've picked back to back 1st overalls because one of them was on a team that was built to compete and frankly sucked as bad as any team we iced in the early 90s. The team that drafted 1st overall was made up of rookies and was rebuilding. So say what you like, but that's the direction we've chosen and there isn't an objective hockey mind I've heard or read from that has said it isn't as viable, if not more so, than the path Burke has tried. Since '08 the Oilers have picked #22, #10, #1, #1. This year it could be anywhere from #1 to #10, but that's what we've decided to do in a rebuild. Knock it if you want or we can table this discussion and see where we are in 5 years.

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#23 CdnBarbarian
October 04 2011, 01:51PM
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Your points on Burke drafting both positive and negative, are completely irrelevant. Burke has stated numerous times that he does not decide who to draft, his team of scouts and GMs do that and then tell him whether or not he should try to move up (or down) to get certain players.

Burke seems to me to be a master negotiator (ex. Phaneuf trade, ex. Beauchemin trade, ex. Kaberle trade, ex. Versteeg for a first rounder?) I don't mention the Kessel trade, not because he 'lost' the trade but because it remains to be seen. I'll measure in terms of cups, so far Boston 1 Toronto 0.

As a leafs fan I'm happy with the job Burkie an co. are doing, could be better, but at least we're going in the right direction as opposed to previous regimes (no names mentioned *cough* JFJ *cough*)

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#24 Tickle Me Aulie
October 04 2011, 02:00PM
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@SkinnyFish

lulz

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#25 1967ers
October 04 2011, 09:21PM
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On the Cup winning Ducks team, Burke acquired four of the top five scorers, three of the top four defensemen (four of six overall), two-thirds of the checking line and the head coach.

Yes, the cupboard wasn't completely bare. The suggestion, however, that he inherited that team is complete idiocy.

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#26 oilers1974
October 06 2011, 11:31AM
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two thirds of your first line moving ahead could have been seguin and paajarvi. but I guess connolly and kessel is a lot better......

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