2017-18 Leafs Season in Review: Nazem Kadri

Continuing on our Season in Review series, it’s time for a controversial figure throughout the playoffs but one of the most important players on this Leafs team that was not talked about enough throughout the regular season.

He’s other team’s favourite player to hate, but our favourite player to love – Nazem Kadri.



80 32 23 55 48.37 48.11

Kadri’s second-straight 32-goal season has shown his ability to simply put the puck in the net on a consistent basis. He’s third on the team in 5v5 goals as well, with 19 – only van Riemsdyk (21) and Matthews (26) are above him.

He has shown great value when you compare him to other centers around the league and the contract that they are signed to. A cap hit of only 4.5m for the next four seasons is wonderful news for the fans that are worried about the other stars taking up all the space.

His raw point totals look great for a 2nd-line center that can play those tough minutes, but when it comes to his shot attempt and expected goal percentages, he leaves a lot to be desired.

Kadri had to face the opposition’s top line for most of the season – he was third in TOI% QoC. But that still does not mean much when he had Finnish anchor Leo Komarov on his wing for 55% of his ice-time at even strength. Two lines had the Kadri/Komarov pairing on them, Marleau and Nylander being the other wingers at times, and those two lines are the two worst CF%rel lines on the entire team this season.

But when Kadri was separated from Komarov and gifted with Marner and Marleau on his wings, they were actually a positive 5v5 CF% line at 50.14. Barely positive, but still.

Either Kadri was just brought down by Komarov being on his wing for the majority of the season, or he is actually not a great driver for shot attempts. The line with Marleau and Marner played some of the more exciting hockey during that late stretch into the playoffs, so hopefully Babcock keeps that in-tact at the start of next season. Then we’ll see if Kadri’s numbers were just a symptom of having a bigger problem on his wing, or he actually doesn’t control play that well.

Production snapshot

Grade: B

His raw point totals are great for his role and he always brought an offensive threat throughout the season. But being in the bottom-half of the more important metrics on this team, hurts Kadri slightly.

He has shown consistency and if he can bring his underlying numbers to be positive across the board, he can be that dominant two-way center that everyone wants him to be.

Fun Fact

Since the 2012-13 season, Kadri has led the league in penalties drawn with 164, a whole 46 more than 2nd-place Dustin Brown.

He is also only the fourth player to play in the NHL of Lebanese descent, following in the footsteps of John Hanna, Alain Nasreddine and Ed Hatoum. Kadri has already played 169 NHL games more than all three of those players combined. A strong role model.

Season Highlight

Most fans will remember Kadri’s 2017-18 season by the blemish that led him to being suspended for three crucial games in the first round of the playoffs against the Boston Bruins, but I don’t want to focus on that. It feels more right to spotlight a gorgeous feed for Andreas Johnsson to score a beautiful backhand goal in that same series.

Even though this season Kadri scored 33 goals, this assist is still the highlight for me. The importance of the timing, environment, and the sheer beauty of it is the first thing I thought of when judging Kadri’s season.

2018-19 Outlook

Kadri’s position is one of the most sure-things on this team as of right now. He will always be behind Matthews in the depth chart and will have a good pairing of wingers beside him.

Babcock will hopefully keep that line with Marner and Marleau, so we get that to look forward to come October. But there is one small thing looming over this offseason like an old Oshawa Generals jersey that hasn’t left the back of a chair at Shoeless Joe’s.

John Tavares might be signing with the Leafs, which is crazy to say. This would bring Kadri down to the 3C slot for sure, but would a lot change for Kadri moving down from the 2C to the 3C behind Tavares/Matthews? I believe that he could still have the same wingers and would still play in the same role that he did just this past season. His ice-time would suffer, but not drastically. If the Leafs were able to have this 1-2-3 punch down the middle, there is no telling what they could bring with a Pittsburgh Penguins-esque offense.

love you forever, Naz.

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