Before we get started, we didn’t do one of these yesterday because talking about hockey didn’t feel right yesterday. When you’re in this morass, do you really want to even think about next season right now? But anyway, this is our charge now so let’s resume.
Ok, Nazem Kadri is a complete penis. He’s more likely to do something horribly damaging to your team when it matters most than help it. In fact, had he kept his head on straight for once the Leafs might have actually beaten the Bruins. Any future infraction from this dickhead is going to result in a long suspension, and seeing as how you can’t trust him to learn or trust your substitute teacher of a coach to straighten him out, the risks are quite clear.
But here’s the thing. When he’s not trying reenact the Battle Of Saxony by himself, Nazem Kadri is a hell of a player. He has four 50+ point seasons on his resume (one was at that pace in 2013), and he’s done that mostly taking the dungeon shifts as a checking center either as the #3 center behind Matthews and Bozak or Tavares this year. He won 55% of his draws this year, which you know will still make some people in the Hawks’ front office tumescent. He put up 44 points this year mostly playing with a corpse in Marleau and something called Connor Brown. He’ll produce with just about anyone.
And the Hawks have a need, whether they want to admit it or not. As it stands right now, you don’t really want Jonathan Toews taking a massive amount of draws and shift-starts in his own end. But the Hawks only have one other player who can do that in David Kampf. Strome needs to be completely sheltered, and really so does Anisimov until you finally get him off this roster. Swapping in Kadri and punting Arty to wherever will take him for an Edible Arrangement gives you two centers you can leash to the d-zone, allowing Toews to really focus on the offensive end. At this point in his career, it’s one or the other for the most part.
Second, Kadri is cheap. His cap-hit is essentially the same as Anisimov’s, but you get a ton more. You get more skill, more speed, and a far better defensive player. Sure, he’s signed for three more years but at 28 he’s not likely to fall off a cliff before it’s up. And even if the offense starts to dry up you still have a pretty hellacious checking center on your hands. And there’s really nothing in the system at center unless the Hawks take Turcotte (which they’re going to), but you can worry about that shuffle whenever Turcotte is ready. Or you could just not take Turcotte if you swing for Kadri here.
Where this all falls apart is that the Hawks don’t really have anything the Leafs want. The Leafs need NHL-ready d-men. If they were run by a complete jackass, as they were in the past, you could probably really sell them on the offensive production and the cheapness of Gustafsson, which would still allow them to make moves considering he makes nothing. But Kyle Dubas probably isn’t a complete moron. Prospects don’t do the Leafs a whole lot of good as they are all about NOW NOW NOW, unless you could involved a third team for them to swing those prospects to. If you were looking for an actual landing spot for Keith, you might be able to sell him on this given Babcock and their chances but I don’t know that you could sell the Leafs on it. But there’s been no whisper that Keith has asked out or that the Hawks have asked him if he wants out.
Yes, Kadri wouldn’t solve your top six winger deficiency. But if you’re going 19-17-43-64 down the middle you can probably live with some third-line winger moonlighting on the top six. No, he doesn’t help the defense but his cap number is low enough, especially with any jettisoning of Anisimov, that you would retain all the flexibility to do something about that as well.
Yes, the gray matter is a concern. The hope would be that even with an overmatched coach, a leadership stable of Toews, Keith, Seabrook would keep him in a line a ton better than whatever it was in Toronto. The Hawks have made that bet before.
It hinges on just how sick the Leafs are of his bullshit. You get the sense if you could have made this trade in April they would have given him to you for a song. But now that time has let everything cool, it’ll be harder. But it makes sense, if the Hawks want to get creative.