I wasn’t happy when Nazem Kadri was called up to the Maple Leafs. Too soon, I said. The Damien Cox in me thought: “There goes another prospect.” Only a week later, I’ve done a complete one-eighty, and am mighty pleased with the promotion. There’s no way he’s going back. It’s obvious to any observer that Kadri is a point-per-game NHL performer, and will be for the rest of his illustrious career.
Kadri’s got vision; kid can pass. Phil Kessel and — especially — Kris Versteeg would surely agree. And Kadri’s playing his game. He’s confident. He’s trying to dangle around defenceman in the offensive zone. I like it. I like his attitude. Mike Richards probably doesn’t, but, really, who cares what Mike Richards thinks?
Now, I’m no Ron Wilson fan. I’m a hater, actually, and, well, I hate. But credit where credit’s due. Wilson’s playing Kadri. He’s got him out there with Kessel, on the top line, averaging 19:21 a game. Wilson’s giving Kadri every opportunity to succeed. And wouldn’t it be nice for young Nazem, after three assists in his first three games, to score his first career NHL goal in Montreal Saturday night, against the Habs? Yes, that would be nice. I’d like that very much. It’d let Habs fans know what’s in store for, oh, I don’t know, the next 15-to-17 years.
We all know who else played exceptionally well for the Leafs Thursday night: Mikhail Grabovski, who’s on a tear, and who I so very badly want to see succeed here in Toronto, and Kris Versteeg. Isn’t it awfully nice of Versteeg to finally join us? I think so too. And, of course, Jonas Gustavsson, Toronto’s new number one goalie. I don’t think J.S. Giguere gets his job back when he returns. Frankly, I don’t think he deserves it. And I think Giguere’s had it pretty easy in the media so far this season, especially considering how much he talked during The Great Losing Streak of 2010. I know, I know, the Leafs can’t score. But the bottom line is that Giguere’s .895 save percentage simply isn’t good enough.
The Giguere/Gustavsson situation parallels the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays; John Buck and J.P. Arencibia, Lyle Overbay and Adam Lind. It’s no secret that Giguere, making a ton of money this season, won’t be back in 2011/2012. He isn’t part of the plan, so he doesn’t need to play. Especially not the majority of games. Gustavsson has been by leaps and bounds the better goalie five-on-five so far this season, his .933 save percentage shining much brighter than Giguere’s .905. While J.S. does have the edge in save percentage on the penalty kill, .846 to .769, the majority of the game is played at even-strength. It’s a no-brainer. It’s time to see what The Monster is made of. WilsonCity just doesn’t have the same ring to it as CitoCity, does it?
As for the New Jersey Devils, for the first time since I can remember, I don’t recognize them.
Image, one I can definitely get used to, courtesy of Reuters via daylife.