Brian Burke likes what he sees from several Toronto Maple Leafs prospects.
The Maple Leafs general manager joined Joe Bowen and Greg Millen during the Toronto Marlies broadcast on Wednesday, and said that he’s been especially pleased with the development of forward Nazem Kadri.
"(Nazem) has been real good," Burke said. "Dallas (Eakins) had to straighten him out a little bit. He’s been good but he drives other teams crazy. That’s what I love about Naz."
With the NHL season still in doubt, Burke has kept a close eye on many of the Marlies players as they could be part of the Leafs roster in the future.
Burke mentioned that there are a number of players that have already caught his eye this season.
"There’s a couple guys here that you expect to play well," he said. "Jake Gardiner’s been excellent, Matt Frattin. But I think the guy that really didn’t get heralded much, that has been not a revelation to us because we loved him last year, is Mike Kostka. He’s so smart, so intelligent and he’s just been a real boost for our team.
"(Paul Ranger) has been terrific. He’s a known quantity to us. He left hockey for a while. This is a guy who played well at the NHL level, should be a dominant player down here and has been. He’s a really steady veteran presence in the room, too.
The Leafs have a number of upcoming free agents on their current NHL roster and could decide to replace the veteran players with some of the younger ones that they have on the Marlies.
"Randy (Carlyle) has watched the team play a lot, but a guy we certainly counted for us being a factor this year was Korbinian Holzer, a John Ferguson draft by the way," Burke explained. "And he hasn’t disappointed down here, he’s playing good.
"Whether Joe Colborne gets a look, he’s had a slow start but we believe in him. Jesse Blacker, who’s played some good games for us. Naz certainly would be in the hunt."
It remains unclear if the NHL season will take place in 2012-13.