I will start off on a positive note: Kadri is lighting it up, leading the Leafs in scoring... from the 3rd line! Yesterday he put the team on his back and got his first NHL hat trick against the Islanders in a 5 - 4 overtime win. Don Cherry would beam about this and say, "I told ya so!", but I'm of the opinion that Kadri has developed into the player he is right now becasue of one person: Dallas Eakins. The Marlies coach helped Naz find his game, his fitness, taught him how to pick his spots, and how to be a real pro. I used the think we would eventually see this kid develop into a skilled third line scoring forward or quality second line guy at best. Right now it looks like the sky is the limit for Nazem Kadri. I hate to compare him to my childhood idol, but if I had to compare his play to any former Leaf, I see flashes of Doug Gilmour. He has a lot to accomplish in his career to fill those shoes, but I see the skill, grit, the two way play, and even the fiestyness of "Killer" at times.
Now time to get a little negitive. The Leafs are in a good position in the standings at this point in the season, but in order to stay where they are (or climb), their best players have to be their best players. Phil Kessel, I'm looking at you. I am a fan of Phil's, honestly. But as a Canadian who grew up in the hockey culture, a want to puke every time Phil gets the puck along the boards in his own zone, senses a player coming to check him and flicks the puck away to the other team as he changes direction to avoid the opposing player from touching him. It's pathetic! I don't care if you're a 30+ goal scorer. Grow some orbs and take a check or two for your teammates! The turnovers he created in the game against Montreal on Wednesday (he was a -4 in the game) directly contributed to the lopsided shot clock and eventually the loss. He wasn't much better last night (-2).
Too bad Dallas Eakins can't get some time with Mr. Kessel (damn waivers) to teach him what Nazzie now knows: To take your game to the next level you need to play for your teammates and not for yourself. There is always a weak point to your game that can be improved.