Nazem Kadri trade rumours just won’t bloody die

Dave Nonis was on the radio talking about Nazem Kadri? Let me guess… did he say that Kadri is an important core piece of the Maple Leafs? That fans shouldn’t be too upset at his lack of production because the team took into consideration his unsustainable percentages a year ago? That Kadri’s play away from the puck has improved from 2013 to 2013-14?

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Of course he didn’t. What Nonis said, per @Hope_Smoke via Sean Gentille at the Sporting News was “we’d be willing to trade Kadri.”

Gee, and Nonis might wonder why the blogosphere acts as if he were dumber than a sack of hammers, if he knew what a blogosphere was (or if he knew how to turn a computer on).

This is the full transcript:

“I think it’s easy to say that Kadri is struggling but he’s having a decent year. It’s not like he’s not putting up points. Last year he was producing against other teams’ 2nd and 3rd lines. This year he is playing against better players … Kadri and (Jake) Gardiner’s names are brought up quite a bit, so is (Morgan) Rielly’s. We’d be willing to trade Kadri. There’s a difference between willing to and trying to. If the right deal comes up we would do it.”

I’m not really certain that I buy Nonis’ claim for one that Kadri is playing against better players this season. His ice-time has slightly increased, but according to Extra Skater, Kadri ranks last on the Leafs in terms of quality of forwards faced (the metric essentially weights the amount of ice-time opponents play. A player who plays 20 minutes is more valuable than one who plays 5 minutes) and per the same website, Kadri’s 2013 TotTm% F QoC is identical to his 2014 value.

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I don’t think competition is the thing, and it’s a very flimsy excuse. Randy Carlyle has shifted to a full-on power-on-power style this season, using Tyler Bozak against first lines and leaving Nazem Kadri or Jay McClement to the second and third lines, depending on the pace of the game. A year ago, Kadri would occasionally match up with the other team’s best lines if Carlyle lost a matchup on the road: Claude Julien would use Patrice Bergeron against him, for instance, because by way of numbers, he was the most dangerous Leaf.

For two, what is Nonis thinking even suggesting that Kadri is on the block? I agree with a point Steve made in his podcast yesterday: It doesn’t matter who the Leafs trade as long as they get a good return. That doesn’t give Nonis free reign to suggest that the Leafs would be willing to trade him. What kind of message does that send, during a year when Kadri is seeing his minutes eaten up by Jay McClement?

And, hey, as long as we’re discussing production, why is it always mentioned that Kadri has a scoring dip this year but not McClement? In 48 games last season, McClement scored 8 goals and 17 points. This year, he has one goal and five points in the same span of games, but more ice-time. Is the message “unless Kadri starts producing, we will give his minutes to a player that scores even less. That’ll learn him.”

It’s again, this bizarre crusade by Randy Carlyle and Dave Nonis against skilled players. They can win all the shootout games they want, but the reality is that this group conceived by Carlyle and Nonis fundamentally suck and are boring to watch. They’ve gotten to where they are in the standings today largely without the efforts of Dave Bolland and David Clarkson, the offseason’s two prized acquisitions, with the slack being picked up by Jonathan Bernier and a host of outlaws leftover from the Burke-Wilson era. The Leafs have been terrible to watch, and despite all the talent up front, can’t score goals and in response, they take their best players out of the lineup and put worse players in the lineup in front of them. 

Gentille summed it up very well:

From a less quantifiable standpoint, and within the context of the Leafs as a team, Kadri is the most offensively gifted center in a center-starved organization. He’s also still quite young. In short, he’s the exact sort of player Toronto needs, and unless they move him as part of a deal for a blue-chip, better-than-him center, it’s tough to see how a move would make sense.

Maybe Nonis is expecting to light a fire under him, or increase his trade stock, but more than likely he wasn’t thinking. The Leafs probably don’t understand what made Kadri successful last year (a high on-ice Sh%) and their expectations for him this year was out of whack.

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Let’s use a test case on what happens when a team doesn’t understand a player on its roster.

From Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News, the day James van Riemsdyk was traded for Luke Schenn:

For the Flyers, the swap ends van Riemsdyk’s tumultuous journey in Philadelphia, one that started with high expectations as the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2007 and never fully materialized. Instead, the 23-year-old offered just enough brief flashes of brilliance and glory to warrant a gaudy, 6-year, $25.5 million extension last summer. It was based purely on potential and not actually demonstrated consistency.

That word, “consistency” came up again in another column later that day, with a tongue-in-cheek nod to JvR’s consistency:

The flip side, as most pessimists point out, is that the Flyers will need to somehow find a way to replace the offense lost from van Riemsdyk.

You know, since “JVR” was always such a consistent scorer.

The general feeling in Philadelphia was that van Riemsdyk struggled in his first season. He had an excellent second season, but failed to regain that form in his third year. Eric T., one of the smartest men in the world relating to hockey matters, wrote about van Riemsdyk in depth in February of 2012, after fans had soured on van Riemsdyk but before the Flyers traded him.

He concluded with:

James van Riemsdyk has improved quite a bit this year. Don’t let unrealistically high preseason hopes color your judgment; he’s shown a lot of progress this year and only a drop in shooting percentage luck is holding him back.

If you read a lot of sportswriters, you’ll often see the word “consistency”. From an individual standpoint, “consistency” is almost always a bad thing. A 5-goal scorer is, by nature, more consistent than a 30-goal scorer. You can always expect a 5-goal scorer to not score, and he does that with more consistency than the 30-goal scorer scores. In a sport like hockey where production is tied to randomness in a small sample, fans can get uppity about stretches where a player catches fire and then goes quiet.

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Every good player in the league not named Sidney Crosby has been at some point blasted for “inconsistency” and it appears we’re very close to being down that same road with Kadri. Before the Leafs go out and Britta something, they should take into account van Riemsdyk’s PDO from Years 1-through-3 in Philadelphia:

2010 98.9
2011 102.2
2012 97.8

I have a post explaining what PDO is here. Kadri’s PDO a year ago was 106.3, 3rd among regular forwards. This year he’s down to 99.2. If your expectations of Kadri involved him keeping those ridiculously-high percentages from a year ago, than your expectations of Kadri needed reconsidering.


  • Some regression from Naz was to be expected. We’ve touched on this before.
  • Don’t say anything stupid in the press about it, because you sound like the team that traded away James van Riemsdyk for Luke Schenn.

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  • Fortunately for me, you don’t need to be all that smart to see that giving up on Kadri already would be a mistake. As many other have probably already pointed out, and I’ll do it again, look at Alex Steen. I don’t know what it will take for this organization to learn about how to use and treat their players.

    As Steve has said before, “they are incurably stupid.”

  • arnoldlwlee

    “Man, this Kadri rumors just don’t die. I know what I’ll do, I’ll write an article about it!”
    – Cam logic

    Still not as bad as mainstream media logic:

    Step 1. Write a story making up rumour
    Step 2. Grill player about rumour every time you see him, write about his reaction
    Step 3. Write new article about how the “media” makes up rumours

    wash, rinse and repeat

    • Yes, me posting something on a Friday evening on a blog is much worse than THE GENERAL MANAGER OF THE BIGGEST TEAM IN HOCKEY GOING ON SPORTS RADIO AND NOT KILLING THE RUMOUR.

      Plus, I spent most of the post not talking about the rumour, and instead defending Kadri against his critics.

  • I am a Oiler fan and live in E-town so i know what be poor down the middle is all about. Don’t give up on Kadri , Center is a difficult position with a lot of responsibilty. We tried Taylor Hall at C , and it was an epic
    failure, like our entire season. Kadri brings much to is game, Hang on to him unless the deal is to good to refuse. Those deal are not in front of you very often however. Yakapov for Kadri ? Yeah i know Yak is not a centre
    but he is not being used properly by Mr. Eakins. [ We wont go there.]

    Peace leaf fans – my second fav team.

    Wheres Dave Keon when you need him !! my all time Fav.

  • Quasijr

    What you failed to mention in all of this is that Nonis said he’s willing to trade anybody—even JVR for the right price. (As moronic as trading JVR would be) I heard the whole interview and actually felt Nonis was somewhat defending Kadri. Kadri definately hasn’t sucked this year but I think we can agree that he’s definitely not silencing the haters either. That bridge contract given to kadri was a good move by Nonis compared to the rest of the deals he made in the summer. The rumors will never stop in Toronto. It is why you’re writing a story about it.

  • STAN

    I agree the Kadri media trades annoy me. And so does all the Clarkson trashing who is having a similarly poor SH% year.

    And I would have liked the story to touch on a few more points.

    1. Offensively I’m sold on Kadri and is in a cold streak (the opposite of Bozak’s hot streak). Defensively what is Kadri going to be in the future – a Spezza, Ribeiro (?)or Gilmour (no that is unlikely). But as a centre the other half of his duties is defence and I haven’t seen much insight into that.

    2. Fit on the team. Let’s say we intend to keep Kadri then what line does he project to fit. And so what other centre are required given the answer to the above? Should the other centre probably should be a big body two way centre. Kadri is a nice piece and the leafs are team rather then a collection of individuals. And so how do he fit on the team in long term.

    • STAN

      Kadri is better than Gagner.

      Last year, Kadri had 0.92 ppg and Gagner had 0.79 ppg. This year, Kadri has 0.60 ppg to Gagner’s 0.51. Gagner’s FO% this year is 46.1%. Kadri’s is 44.3%

      Toronto doesn’t need Gagner. He would be another 2nd/3rd line center on a team with plenty of them. Most importantly, he’s an older version of Kadri who only has a couple more prime years left (and his prime isn’t that great) whereas Kadri hasn’t even entered his prime.

  • STAN

    The real problem with the Nonis “interview” was not what he said about Kadri and other’s he’d consider trading, it was the lack of proper questions about the real under-achievers.

    1. Would you consider trading David Clarkson or Dion Phaneuf? Or are their contracts now untradeable?

    In other words, ask some real questions that concerned fans have, not slo-pitch tosses that usually aren’t even posed as actual questions, (ie; “talk about David Clarkson…” or start with a lie sold as a fact “…Phaneuf’s been looking solid lately”. )

    But back to Kadri, he’s young and talented and likely won’t peak for several more years, so you’d better be certain that you’re getting at least equal value if you decided to unload him.

    Sadly, I’m convinced the current management team has little clue; the evidence is overwhelming. So many bad, costly moves in a regular business would have seen the entire management team sacked.

  • STAN

    I have to disagree with the premise of this article.

    The only reason their are rumors about Kadri being traded is because the media has concocted them.

    The Leafs management is simply being honest. They are repeatedly being asked if they are going to trade Kadri and they repeatedly state that they are not trying to trade him, that other teams are making inquiries, and that the only reason they would trade him is if they got a great deal. Furthermore, they’ve stated that they would consider trading anyone for the right deal. The media should applaud their honesty when they could simply reply with tired sports cliches.

    Nonis has flat out said that Carlyle isn’t going to be fired. Yet the media still creates rumors that he will be. So flat out making a statement certainly doesn’t do a thing to stop the chatter.

    If the Islanders called and said they’d trade Tavares for Kadri and Gardner, should the Leafs’ consider it? Of course they should. That is all Leaf management is saying. Nothing more. It is the media who is to blame for trying to increase readership by manufacturing reasons to attack Leaf Management by inventing headlines.

    • STAN

      I agree with Leafs2Isles1. But to be fair to the media & bloggers, not that they necessarily deserve it, Wilson got a vote of confidence with a contract extension 2 months before he was canned after the semi went off the cliff.
      So these ‘got your back’ comments from Nonis a & Leiwike could just be them blowing smoke. What the media & the bloggers who may very well be creating something out of nothing fail to ask or answer is if Carlyle were to be fired who would his replacement be. It certainly would not be anyone from his current staff, so who is out there. Please don’t say Laviolette, look how well he did in Philly.