Of all sources, former NHL pest Sean Avery via his Instagram said “per my sources in Toronto, Nazem Kadri has been traded for Jacob Trouba” which he pronounced: Troub-da.

The report came as a surprise from Avery, and while it has not proven to be true, the premise is one that actually made a lot of sense. The Winnipeg Jets have just delt pending UFA Kevin Hayes to the Philidelphia Flyers and are in need of a second/third-line centre going into 2019-2020. On the other side, The Toronto Maple Leafs need defence as well. They also have cap issues to resolve with impending RFA Mitch Marner set for a big payday sometime over the next couple of months.

That being said, Kadri has a lot of value to the Leafs. He’s been in the organization for a long time and is one of the leaders of a still very young team. This could prove to be even more important if Patrick Marleau is dealt over the summer. Kadri is still only 28 years old and is an important part of the current Leafs roster.

Toronto Maple Leafs Should Hang On To Nazem Kadri

Kadri’s Cap Hit Is Manageable

The theme of the Leafs off-season is going to be managing their cap room. Per Cap Friendly, the Leafs are projected around $8.8 million of cap space to spread around a variety of different places with the biggest fish being Marner. Freeing up more space for Marner is going to be a challenge but it seems unnecessary to exile Kadri in that regard.

Kadri’s contract carries an average annual value of $4.5 million. He is the fifth highest – likely to be the sixth soon – paid forward on the Leafs, fitting him perfectly into his third line role. This puts his cap hit under players like Marleau and William Nylander. Both had fewer points – Nylander (27) and Marleau (37) – last season despite playing the majority of their minutes higher up in the lineup. Nazem Kadri had 44 points as a third-line centre, putting him 62nd among NHL centres. This valuation, in a league where there are four centres on each of 31 teams, would put him squarely where he should be. A high-end third liner or low-end second.

The Leafs are trying to deal away both Marleau and Nikita Zaitsev and if successful, would make up significantly more room. Moving Kadri would clear up a solid amount of space but replacing his value would be very hard. He also has three more seasons as a Leafs before hitting unrestricted free agency. The Leafs have him at his current cap hit until he turns 32.

The Leafs Need Centre Depth

With the Signing of John Tavares last off-season, centre ice became the Leafs strongest position group.