Should the Oilers Consider Nazem Kadri?

Adam Larsson, Edmonton Oilers, Nazem Kadri, Top Story, Toronto Maple Leafs

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Nazem Kadri is likely going to be handed a lofty suspension for his crosscheck on Jake DeBrusk in Saturday’s playoff game versus the Boston Bruins. It will be another in a long line of trips in front of the NHL Department of Player Safety and as a repeat offender, Kadri will likely see somewhere between six and 10 games his lack of self-control.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Kadri’s hearing is scheduled for Monday.

In the immediate picture for the Maple Leafs, Kadri’s being gone from the lineup is a big deal. The last time he was suspended, the Maple Leafs missed his contributions immensely. A bit deeper a team this time around, they might not miss him as much, but he’s hardly the kind of player you want sitting on the sidelines when an in-control Kadri can be quite useful.

Questions are already popping up around the Toronto area that perhaps Kadri has sealed his fate with the Maple Leafs and that long-term, he’s not a reliable player when it matters most. At least one member of the media is calling for a trade.

Related: NHL Rumors: Eberle, Flyers, Kings, More

Why Would Toronto Trade Kadri?

While Steve Simmons is the type of media personality some people love and some people hate, his argument that the Maple Leafs need to say goodbye to Kadri does have some valid points.

Nazem Kadri
Toronto Maple Leafs’ Nazem Kadri (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer)

A player who scored 44 points in 73 games for the Leafs this season would probably score more if he was playing in a higher role, but the Maple Leafs are stacked on offense and Kadri has developed into more of a depth specialty player with skill. He can produce offense and play in the top-six but he’s not necessarily relied upon to do so in Toronto. Instead, he often takes defensive assignments while adding skill to an already highly-skilled roster.

His 44 points were the lowest total in his last four seasons and while the Maple Leafs will have to juggle their salary cap with players who will see some significant raises, Kadri may be a luxury the Maple Leafs can’t afford.

Related: NHL Rumors: Oilers, Kings, Sabres, More

Is Kadri Actually A Luxury?

Kadri’s history of questionable plays is what has a lot of people up in arms. He’s the kind of player you hate to play against but love to have on your team; unless of course he’s suspended. On the sidelines, he doesn’t offer much value at all.

Nazem Kadri Maple Leafs
Nazem Kadri, Toronto Maple Leafs, Dec. 12, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The argument someone like Simmons makes is that the Toronto Maple Leafs are too good a team to let an important roster spot and $4.5 million per season go to waste when the Leafs will be playoff contenders year after year over the duration of Kadri’s contract. The question becomes, if he can’t help you when it matters most, how much help is he?

Toronto will want players who won’t get suspended in crunch time and there are serious concerns that Kadri gets it anymore. If he winds up getting 8-10 games for his latest infraction, it could mean he doesn’t play another single playoff game this season. Tha won’t sit well with Maple Leafs management.

Related: NHL Rumors: Kadri, Zucker, Panthers, More

Where Do the Oilers Fit?

It’s possible the Edmonton Oilers never become part of the Kadri conversation. That said, there are a few things Oilers fans understand in great detail.

Ron Hainsey; Connor McDavid
Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid and Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Ron Hainsey (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

First, the Oilers need more scoring. With three top-six forwards and two others who may or may not be top-six players, Edmonton has proven that three men won’t get you into the playoffs. Second, the Oilers are looking for salary-friendly contracts on players with a proven track record for producing points. Kadri is exactly that, and then some. Third, Edmonton needs to try and land players without giving up the farm to acquire them.

If it winds up Toronto is really that miffed about Kadri’s propensity to get suspended and they’ve determined it’s better to clear out his salary than it would keep him, he may be available at less than market value. The Oilers could use a player who scores at least 45 points per season (even in a more limited role) and Edmonton could use a little of the nastiness Kadri provides.

Kadri is only 28, has three years left on a reasonable deal and it might be nice to have him skating with McDavid versus giving McDavid fits every time these two teams meet up.

What the Oilers Would Have to Give?

Any conversation might start with a player like Adam Larsson. Depending on what team you root for, you may ask, ‘Is that too much? Or, ‘Is that not enough?’

Adam Larsson (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Larsson for Kadri is a trade that dollar-for-dollar gives Toronto what it needs. An NHL blueliner with a reasonable salary and only a couple years left on his deal. He’s not flashy, but he’s a righty that helps the Maple Leafs. The Oilers could then add a legitimate offensive threat who can play a specialty role and concentrate their efforts on hunting for a more offensive right-handed defender on trade or UFA market.

The Maple Leafs will ask for a player like Darnell Nurse, but I don’t think Nurse moves after the season he just had.

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