Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports
The Dream is back!
The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed restricted free agent Nazem Kadri to a new one-year contract. According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, the 24-year old centre will make $4.1M next season, which works out to be a cool million dollar raise over last year.
Kadri finished fourth in scoring for the Leafs this past season, with 18 goals and 39 points in 73 games.
While many were expecting a longer, more expensive contract for Kadri, this deal makes a lot of sense for both sides.
On one hand, Kadri doesn’t lose his RFA status for a full two seasons beyond this new contract, so Toronto hypothetically sign him to what would be a third ‘bridge contract’. For Kadri though, it’s an opportunity to prove himself to a new coach, in a new system, with a presumably larger role in the offence going forward. If all goes well, Kadri could cash in on a longterm contract next offseason.
With so many roster changes, it wouldn’t be surprising if Kadri finally becomes Toronto’s full time #1 centre this year. Kadri is clearly the team’s most skilled centre (and has been for a while now), and incumbent top liner Tyler Bozak no longer has Phil Kessel around to protect him. It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Bozak’s points totals take a significant hit, and Kadri excel in his place.
With Kadri’s signing, the Leafs have pretty much finalized their forward group for next season. Newcomers P.A. Parenteau and Mark Arcobello will hopefully help an offense that recently lost an elite goal scorer, and a returning Daniel Winnik will help flesh out a bottom six. Still, the 2015-16 Toronto Maple Leafs look like they’ll have a tough time putting pucks in the net.