This is certainly a case of hindsight being 20/20, but given what has happened since the start of the 2019-20 NHL season and especially what’s occurred in the league’s Stanley Cup playoff bubble, the Toronto Maple Leafs never should have traded Nazem Kadri.
General manager Kyle Dubas may never publicly admit that but he knows it’s right in his heart of hearts.
Kadri, a feisty center who was drafted seventh overall by the Leafs in the 2009 NHL Draft, was traded to the Colorado Avalanche along with defenceman Calle Rosen and Toronto’s third round draft pick on July 1, 2019 for blueliner Tyson Barrie, forward Alexander Kerfoot and a sixth round pick.
The 29-year-old Kadri enjoyed a solid first season in Denver, amassing 19 goals and 17 assists in 51 games while Barrie had five goals and 34 helpers in 70 games with Toronto and Kerfoot chipped in with nine goals and 19 assists in 65 games.
Dubas signed Kerfoot to a contract extension worth $3.5 million a season through 2022-23 but it is likely that Barrie — even through he had a down year in Toronto — will walk in free agency as he seeks a raise from his expiring deal that paid him $2.75 million.
Kadri is under contract for the next two seasons at $4.5 million and given the way he is playing right now, you can make a case that the Av’s second line center is the most underpaid player in the National Hockey League.
In the eight games that Colorado has played in the bubble, including their first round series victory over the Arizona Coyotes, the former London Knights star has recorded a playoff-leading six goals along with five assists.
In 19 playoff games over four seasons win the Maple Leafs, Kadri registered 3 goals and 7 assists, as well as back-to-back suspensions against the Boston Bruins — two series that eventually ended in Game 7 losses for Toronto.
Kadri had zero penalty minutes in Colorado’s first round series and is relishing the fact that he’s going to be playing in Round 2 of the post-season for the first time in his 10-year NHL career.
Toronto would love to have him back, but unfortunately there are no do-overs in the NHL.
Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, news and senior sports director at Global News Radio 900 CHML.