Almost An Ottawa Senator, Will Toronto Maple Leaf Nazem Kadri Be A Spark In The Battle Of Ontario?


It took a while, but the man who was almost an Ottawa Senator but became a Toronto Maple Leaf seems to have finally arrived in the NHL.

Feb 28, 2013; Uniondale, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri (43) after scoring a goal during the second period against the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

If you will remember the 2009 NHL Draft, Bryan Murray had a 12 second conversation with Brian Burke about flipping the Senators’ 9th pick to Toronto for the 7th pick and something else.  Before Murray could get out what that something else was, Burke cut him off saying they were going to take Nazem Kadri, and Murray admitted that that was who he wanted as well, so that ended the conversation.

In case you missed it, here is the video:

The Senators didn’t make out too badly, as they drafted Jared Cowen with the 9th pick.

Well, it took a while, but this season Kadri seems to have matured to the level that both Burke and Murray had anticipated almost 4 years ago.  Finding chemistry with winger Clarke MacArthur has led the previously inconsistent Kadri to become the Leafs’ secondary scoring answer that Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin haven’t been able to provide.  The 22 year old centre has 4 goals and 5 assists in his last 5 games, including a hat trick in last Thursday’s overtime win against the Islanders.

Although he has matured over the last 2 years as a pro, he still has a little bit of the “guy you love to hate” in his game, and he also has that air of arrogance or cockiness that used to drive Senators fans crazy about the Leafs.  He is part of Burke’s legacy that he wasn’t allowed to see through, although as I said earlier this season, that might be the way it had to happen for the team he built to finally thrive.

Either way, the Leafs matter again in the Eastern Conference, and Kadri, the man that could have been an Ottawa Senator, is a big reason why.  The last time the Leafs and the Sens met in Ottawa, it was a dramatic finish in a playoff-type atmosphere that started to show an inkling of what the Battle of Ontario used to be.  Kadri could be a big part of rekindling that battle.

As for Murray, we may never know what the next words out of his mouth would have been before Burke cut him off, but just looking at round 2 of that same draft, the Senators took Jakob Silfverberg.  I’m not saying that a second round pick would have been what it took to move up just two spots, but remember it was a third round pick that Nashville got for dropping 3 spots so Ottawa could draft Erik Karlsson the year before.