The Toronto Maple Leafs’ search for a No. 1 center took a step in the right direction last season with the emergence of Nazem Kadri, but is it too early to make a long-term financial commitment to the former first-round pick?
Before anyone pencils Kadri’s name onto the lineup sheet for next year, his agent and Leafs general manager Dave Nonis must work out a new contract for the 21-year-old restricted free agent, a situation that will become a growing distraction if it isn’t solved by the start of training camp next month.
When players’ entry-level contracts expire, GMs are often forced to pay for potential rather than performance. It’s a tough gamble to make, and the results over last few years have been mixed.
The Los Angeles Kings paid young star Drew Doughty $56 million over eight years after the 23-year-old’s third NHL season. This contract, so far, has paid dividends for the Kings because Doughty played an integral part of the team’s Stanley Cup championship two years ago and has become a legitimate No. 1 defenseman.