In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at Nazem Kadri’s postseason and how he’s finally severing ties with Toronto both mentally and physically. Second. I’ll look at the continued speculation that seems to pop up in the space left by the professional quietness of the Maple Leafs as an organization.
Third, I do some dreaming about what I hope might happen with the team during the 2022-23 regular season that might help solve some of the salary-cap issues and, at the same time, make an exciting regular season for the fans. Finally, I’ll wonder about Ilya Mikhehev’s desire to stay with the team.
Item One: Nazem Kadri Is Erasing Toronto from His Mind
When Nazem Kadri was traded from the Maple Leafs, to say he didn’t want to leave was an understatement. He invoked his no-trade clause to turn down a trade to the Calgary Flames; and, only when the writing was on the wall with a wide permanent marker, did he relent. He was traded to the Colorado Avalanche.
At that time, Maple Leafs’ fans were sad that Kadri, who had toiled so long and hard with the team when they were not very good, would be moved when the team’s fortunes seemed to be improving. Ha, Ha, and a third Ha.
Last night, Kadri returned from a Game 3 Western Conference thumb injury (which required surgery) to score the overtime winner for his “new” Avalanche team in their (sort of) thrilling – no one saw where the puck was for about five seconds – 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final to give his team a 3-1 series lead.
It would seem as if Kadri has found a new home in Denver with the Avalanche. Since his trade to the Avalanche on July 1, 2019, Kadri has held onto his penthouse in downtown Toronto. However, this past week it was announced that he had put this “status-symbol home in the heart of Toronto” (199 Richmond Street West) up for sale. The asking price of a downtown penthouse for any interested THW readers is a cool $5,380,000.
Kadri’s soon-to-be former home is a 3,300 square foot, three-bedroom penthouse plus den suite, and is just one of two units on the penthouse floor. It seems as if Kadri has moved on mentally as well as physically. His post-season success suggests that he’s taken the next step.
Now the question is whether his stellar regular season followed by such obvious postseason success will create a situation when he might move away one more time. Can the Avalanche afford to keep him?
Item Two: As Usual, the Maple Leafs Are Mum
There’s something very professional about the Maple Leafs’ quietness heading into July 13. Not much to be heard. Nothing much tips the organization’s hand one way or another. I find that refreshing as an approach; however, it does result in flurries of speculations about who will leave and who will stay. That’s probably positive if you’re a player. It saves lots of gratuitous questioning.
But there’s something eerie about the quiet this postseason. We have Chris Johnston on Insider Trading reporting that, although there’s been talk, the Maple Leafs haven’t reached out to pending UFA goaltender Jack Campbell with a contract offer. Same way with Ilya Mikheyev. Lots of speculation, but little news.
Last season things were just as quiet, and both Zach Hyman and Frederik Andersen signed elsewhere. Could it be a similar situation this season? There’s obviously lots going on behind the scenes.
Item Three: I Would Love to See a Maple Leafs’ Kid Line
Here’s fondly remembering the Edmonton Oilers’ Kid Line from the 1989-90 season. As a professor at the University of Alberta for more than 40 years, I was an Edmonton Oilers’ fan. In 1990, the Oilers won their last Stanley Cup – no Wayne Gretzky, no Paul Coffey, no Grant Fuhr. But they did have the “Kid Line” of Martin Gelinas, Joe Murphy, and Adam Graves who played a key role in helping lead the Oilers to their final Stanley Cup. (from “HOW WILL OILERS ‘KID LINE’ RATE AGAINST GREATEST OF KID LINES?,” David Staples, Edmonton Journal , 18/09/2008).
For me, one fun way to see the Maple Leafs address both their salary-cap needs and energize Leafs’ Nation would be to bring up some of their young prospects and form a fourth-line just of young guys. When you look at what that line could be, for me it’s downright exciting in its possibility. Throw them in the deep end, I think. See if they can make the jump to the NHL full-time. Protect their ice time, but let them play and develop their own mojo.
The list of possibilities for me includes players like 20-year-old Nick Robertson, 22-year-old Alex Steeves, 22-year-old Curtis Douglas, 23-year-old Nick Abruzzese, 23-year-old Pontus Holmberg, and the elder statesman of the group 24-year-old Joey Anderson. They all come in different sizes and with different skills; but. really how fun would that be?
By the way, remembering the Oilers’ last Cup win, goalie Bill Ranford was that season’s Conn Smythe winner. Over the years, Ranford played for five different NHL teams and only once had a save percentage over .900. His career win total was 240-279-76.
All this makes me wonder if a goalie today could rise for one shining season to lead his team to the Stanley Cup. Why not Jack Campbell? Or, even a more radical thought, why not Petr Mrazek?
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
Ilya Mikheyev asked for a trade last offseason; and, given the rumors he’s asking upward of $5 million per season, I can’t imagine that he’s forgotten his desire to leave. Is he purposely pricing himself out of the Maple Leafs’ ability and desire to sign him?
I also wonder if Frederik Andersen’s contract signed last offseason with the Carolina Hurricanes of $4.5 million might be closer to the asking price Campbell will seek. I might be offended and walk if I were on Campbell’s negotiating team and were offered less than the $3.8 million that Petr Mrazek signed for last season.
As I noted, so many things in the air.
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf