Getty ImagesThe long and protracted soap opera of Nazem Kadri's restricted free agent status came to an end earlier this week when the young center acquiesced to the demands of Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis and signed for short money and shorter term.
Getting Kadri at two years and $2.9 million per was a coup for Nonis that few probably had any right to expect, so given as he was to doing everything exactly wrong in the deals and decisions completed earlier this summer. There was a lot of talk that the reason Kadri was forced to take this deal after he was seeking — depending upon who you believed — anywhere between $4 million and the U.S. GDP for something in the range of five to several million years largely because he had no leverage.
To some extent, this was true. The league is now being ruthlessly set up so that kids, no matter how good or bad they are, can either get paid what teams want to pay them (which you'll understand is considerably below market value) for a relatively short period of time, or they can get paid not at all, and sit at home and cry about it until someone comes calling with an attractive enough offer sheet that they can get their money from someone. Such was the story of Ryan O'Reilly, who was averse to re-sign with Colorado for anything less than what he ended up getting from Calgary before the Avalanche matched in that whole Jay Feaster-fueled debacle last winter.
Meanwhile, though, Leafs training camp opened without the team's other unsigned restricted free agent, defenseman Cody Franson, having decided to come in and do what the world expected him to do and what his former brother in arms already did. The kind of conviviality with which Kadri is now being welcomed by the team — Randy Carlyle has already stated that he might give Kadri a run-out as the pivot between Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk — awaits the 26-year-old defenseman if only he'd sign for only a modest raise from the $1.2 million he was paid last year.
Kadri buckled, Cody Franson didn't. And as training camp wears on, it's going to be fascinating to watch how or, I suppose, if the hockey world turns its scorn on the last remaining guy in the organization to sign.
Because it sure did for Kadri. Or rather, the hockey world kind of just said, "Ah, Kadri should take the money because he doesn't have the leverage," which was true to some extent. The Leafs would certainly have been only hurting themselves if he'd actually stuck by his guns instead of throwing them down and marching out of the fort with his hands in the air pleading for the firing to stop.
But there was this one person in the hockey world, who just so happens to have the heft to make it seem like the walls were closing in around him like a Death Star garbage compactor.
The world really began to take notice that Kadri had gone unsigned when the calendar flipped from August to September and with training camp a mere week and a half away, the rumors started swirling thanks in large part to TSN insider Darren Dreger, whose near-daily hits on Toronto-area radio stations focused largely and understandably on the situation with that kid who scored 44 points last season despite getting next to no minutes.
Or rather, those conversations focused on how desperately he needed to start seeing things the Leafs' way and take less money and fewer years than he wanted and probably deserved.
You know, for his own good.Read More »from When an NHL insider becomes an inside man (Trending Topics)