It’s no secret that Nazem Kadri’s career with the Toronto Maple Leafs hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing, but general manager Kyle Dubas thinks that’s all going to change.
Dubas was a guest Friday on Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s Jeff Blair Show from the Leafs’ development camp in Collingwood, Ont.
“I’ve always been a big fan of Naz,” Dubas told Ben Ennis, who was filling in for the vacationing Blair. “He does have a chance to be an elite player, and some would say he’s shown the flashes of doing that already.”
Kadri signed a one-year $4.1 million “show me” contract with the club earlier this week, and Dubas expects the 24-year-old to rise to the challenge.
“I know he’s a pretty polarizing guy amongst the fans and the media but I’ve got a lot of faith that [Kadri] is going to show a lot of people what he’s made of this year and have a great season,” said Dubas.
Not all the pressure falls solely on Kadri, of course.
“Naz has to pick up his end of the bargain — and I’ve got strong confidence that he will — and the other part of that falls on us in terms of management and coaching.
“I know with Mike [Babcock], he’s put it to Naz and he expects him to be an elite player, he expects him to reach his potential, and if he does that he’s going to play a ton and he’s going to score a lot … he’ll have the chance to take us to the bank.”
That’s just fine with Dubas.
“If he reaches his potential, we’ll be happy to pay him.”
Dubas also talked about the team’s plethora of young prospects their focus on development and drafting talent, and how the team will know when players are ready for the NHL.
On development camp:
“It’s completely about development on and off the ice … On-ice skills, off-ice skills, cooking, nutrition, media training … so that the players are as capable as possible to maximize their potential the rest of the summer.”
On making the jump to the NHL:
“When they prove that they’re ready to come to the Maple Leafs and stay there and play there for the rest of their career and they show that they are good enough to take the job of somebody that’s been on the Leafs and played everyday … that’s when they’ll be there.”
On the team’s off-season so far:
“We’re at a different stage in our evolution as a program. We’re on a long-term track here and a very patient track.
“We’re pleased, but we realize we have a long way to go.”