Since this may be the last day I get to write about these players as current Toronto Maple Leafs, I thought it should be important to note what Toronto might have brewing right now, for posterity if nothing else.
Nazem Kadri is 23 years old. He has effectively played 2 "full" NHL seasons (one being the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season). In those seasons he has recorded 18-26-44 in 48 gp, and 20-30-50 in 78 gp.
Hockey-reference.com can give us a list of comparable names for players this young (23 or under) who have produced that much (18G, 44P) since the 05-06 season.
I submit that there are 7 names on that list (Horton, Wolski, Michalek, Roy, Stewart, Versteeg, Zherdev) that most Leaf fans wouldn't instantly trade 1-for-1 for Kadri right now; to say nothing of how attractive those players looked at 23 years old. That's a track record where kids like Kadri have an 85% chance of turning into something special. Important players who are difference makers to their franchises.
If we further refine to Kadri's real output of 20 goals/50 pts (+2g and +6 pts - numbers he should have easily hit in 2012-13 with more than 48 games), the list of comparables drops to just 34 names.
And these counts have looked at all forwards, not just centres. If we only look at centres, the names are much fewer, just 29 players:
There is only one player on this list (Wolski) who could be considered a dud.
Why Leaf fans and Leaf management can't see the potential here is mind-boggling. I couldn't care less if a kid has "attitude issues" - they all have attitude now. I want players that want to win and I want players that want the puck on their stick to make magic happen. Kadri has both of those attributes, and potentially has the skill to back it up. Trading him now would be foolish and near-sighted, and unfortunately is exactly what I expect will happen with this management team.
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Gardiner is a similar story.
Since 2005-06, there have been only 24 defencemen who have put up 30 pts twice or more at 23 or younger:
|8||Michael Del Zotto||2|
These players are all either #1 D-men, significant minute-munchers, or first-unit PP producers. These players don't have cheap contracts, and are always the type of defencemen that GMs are desperate to trade for or sign on free agency.
And our team seems like it wants to get rid of him because he may or may not get along with this current terrible coach's terrible style of defensive coverage.
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The fact that these players have had trade rumours circulating is asinine, and is a testament to how ridiculously mismanaged this franchise has been in the 18 months that Dave Nonis has been at the helm.
The facts are plain to see - no fancy stats required here - that Kadri and Gardiner are excellent young players who have both performed in ways that should have everyone giddy with excitement at what they could yet become given the proper continuing development.
Instead, it appears that they might be giving upon far, far too early to appease a coach (by all accounts) they don't like and don't want to keep long term anyway but have brainlessly extended despite this stance.
Welcome to Leaf Nation, Jake & Nazem. You will be missed.