The Toronto Maple Leafs' quest for an offensive spark has resulted in 2009 first-round pick Nazem Kadri being recalled from the AHL Toronto Marlies.
Kadri skated on the Leafs' top line at practice Friday, along with Tyler Bozak and Nikolai Kulemin. He'll be available for Saturday's game against the visiting Vancouver Canucks, when the Leafs look to snap a seven-game losing streak.
The Leafs hope Kadri, who was leading the Marlies with 5 goals and 14 points, can reinvigorate their offense. During their seven-game skid, they have just nine goals, and with an average of just 2.13 goals per game this season, they're 29th in the League.
However, Leafs GM Brian Burke said this wasn't the move he wanted to make. Kadri, in his first professional season, was sent to the AHL during training camp because the club didn't think he was ready for the NHL just quite yet.
"I think in an ideal world, if we would have won a few of the last games, we probably would have given him a little bit longer, but he has made the adjustments we've asked him to, he's cut down his turnovers," Burke told reporters. "He's drawing penalties almost every night by getting hauled down. He's been responsible and he's been good offensively so he's made a lot of the transformations that we needed him to make. In an ideal world, maybe another couple weeks, maybe three weeks, but it's not an ideal world. We're scuffling here."
The pressure on the seventh pick of the 2009 Draft will be intense, but Burke said he's told Kadri not to think he has to carry the load.
"I told him, you're not a savior here," said Burke. "We brought you in to give us a spark and don't carry the weight of the world. The group has to turn this around -- 20 players have to fix this, not one player or two players."
Kadri certainly knows how to score. Before joining the Marlies, he had 93 points in 56 games last season with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, and 8 points in six games in helping Canada win the silver medal at the 2010 World Junior Championship. He played his first NHL game last season as an emergency call-up, playing 17:26 against the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 8.
Also called up was defenseman Keith Aulie. To clear space, the Leafs sent forward Christian Hanson and defenseman Korbinian Holzer to the AHL.
Burke said he remains confident the Leafs as constructed can right the ship.
"My view on this group is I still believe in this group," he said. "The same group went 4-0 (to start the season) and then has scuffled recently. I believe in the group. I believe we put together a character group of people who can get the job done. But that doesn't mean we're not going to utilize the asset we have in the organization when we can. I think these are the guys that are doing the job best down there and that's why they're here."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org