The decision to call-up Nazem Kadri from the American Hockey League may provide short-term stability on offence, but it speaks volumes of the state of peril of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
I can't help but cringe at Brian Burke's reasoning for the call-up:
“I think in an ideal world, if we would have won a few of the last games, we probably would have given him a little bit longer but he has made the adjustments we’ve asked him to, he’s cut down his turnovers. He’s drawing penalties almost every night by getting hauled down. He’s been responsible and he’s been good offensively so he’s made a lot of the transformations that we needed him to make. In an ideal world, maybe another couple weeks, maybe three weeks, but it’s not an ideal world. We’re scuffling here.”
Kadri's 14 points in as many games is impressive, but it's hardly enough to warrant fast-tracking his development. Let's not forget that Kadri stumbled out of the gate in his AHL debut and professional scouts even remarked how he looked "like any other AHL player." In fact, he even got benched during the third period of his first game with the Toronto Marlies for poor defensive decisions. With each passing game he has improved, however, and he has since displayed the offensive flair that got him drafted seventh overall. And with the Leafs' free-fall in the Eastern Conference standings, perhaps it was inevitable for Kadri to have his turn on the big club.
My personal opinion is that this is nothing more than stop-gap and if the Leafs' offensive woes are truly as devastating as their slump suggests, then chaos will unfold before long. Whether that means a trade or simply riding out the rest of the 2010-11 season, the end fate is inevitable.
The desperation move from Burke was at least handled appropriately, though, as the expectations set for Kadri have not been blown out of proportion. Still, with the attention now fixated on the 20-year-old forward, he'll be expected to produce at much higher clip than his pre-season production.
Should Kadri falter and prove that he needs more AHL seasoning, it's crucial the Leafs do not let him stay dead in the water and instead send him back to the Marlies immediately.
All that said, it's hard to imagine a rebuilding team opting for a desperation move such as this. The only thing holding the Leafs from the post-season is themselves.
Kadri, please prove me wrong.