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Leafs happy to stay put, take Kadri at No. 7

by Adam Kimelman
MONTREAL -- Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke said the opportunity to move into the upper echelons of the 2009 Entry Draft was there, but when it came down to it he was just as happy to stay right where he was.

With the seventh selection, the Leafs selected high-scoring London Knights forward Nazem Kadri. Despite missing time with a broken jaw, the 6-foot, 167-pound center had 25 goals and 78 points in 56 games. He was ranked No. 15 by NHL Central Scouting in its final ranking of North American skaters.

"Our guys loved the energy and skill he brings to the game," Burke told "He's a hard worker, he's a dynamic player, he makes things happen on the ice. … It's a great deal for us."

Unlike the options presented to move up -- Burke said the teams he approached all wanted defenseman Luke Schenn, a player the GM is not willing to trade.

"We could have moved up," Burke said. "We could have easily moved up. All we had to do was put Luke Schenn in the deal and we could have moved up. To me that's not a step forward. We were very vocal we were going to try to move up, but not at the expense of our long-term plan. I wasn't about to trade away a guy I think will be our captain in a couple years just to move up. I don't need to be on the stage with the first two picks every year."

Burke also said he wasn't overly interested in trading the seventh pick, either, because of how much he wanted Kadri.

"We tried to move up, we weren't successful," Burke said. "I know people aren't going to believe this, but most of the move-up scenarios that we offered teams did not include the seventh pick. This is the guy we wanted. We got offered probably a top-five first-round pick for next year right before this pick, right before we went up there, that's how highly we think of this young man. Right before, we got another trade offer from a team picking right behind us. This is the guy we wanted (and) we're very excited about it."

Kadri grew up in London, Ont., a Montreal Canadiens fan, but told, "My favorite team changes today."

A dynamic scorer, Kadri was one of the two draft-eligible players invited to Canada's summer junior evaluation camp last summer, and likely would have competed for a spot on the squad had he not broken his jaw.

"I can bring a lot of things," Kadri said. "I can score, I have that edge in my game, I'm a two-way player, and hopefully I can be inserted into the lineup."

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