Toronto Maple Leafs Call Up Nazem Kadri and Ryan Hamilton

Matt WisemanCorrespondent IIIMarch 23, 2012

TORONTO, CANADA - JANUARY 19:  Nazem Kadri #43 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates in a game against the Minnesota Wild on January 19, 2012 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Leafs defeated the Wild 4-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs called up forwards Nazem Kadri and Ryan Hamilton from their AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies on Thursday.

The call ups were made on an emergency basis, as Matt Frattin and Clarke MacArthur have been listed as day-to-day with minor injuries (lower-body for Frattin and upper-body for MacArthur).

Hamilton will make his NHL debut tonight when the Leafs visit New Jersey to take on the Devils. The 26-year-old Marlies captain has tallied 23 goals and 23 assists in 65 AHL games this season.

Kadri has 13 goals and 19 assists in 42 games this year with the Marlies. He has also notched four goals and two assists in 19 games for the Leafs this season.

The 21-year-old Ontario native was drafted seventh overall in the first round of the 2009 NHL entry draft, but has been unable to find full-time duties with the Leafs since.

Kadri has the talent to become a major offensive threat for Toronto going forward. He was, in my opinion, poorly handled when Ron Wilson was coaching the Buds. But now that Randy Carlyle has assumed head coaching duties, Kadri has a second chance to make a good first impression.

He is by no means a Carlyle-type player. Kadri is neither big nor strong, but has shown the ability to play a physical game at times, and should be able to impress Carlyle if he can employ a similar work ethic to that of center Mikhail Grabovski.

Like Kadri, Grabovski is at a disadvantage because of his size, but was able to earn accolades from Carlyle nonetheless, and a new contract too.

GM Brian Burke has been adamant for sometime that Kadri's game needs much work.

Admittedly, his defensive game has been his crutch since being drafted three years ago, but not all NHL-caliber forwards play well at both ends of the ice and, in my estimation, Kadri's defensive game has improved enough to warrant him a roster spot with the Leafs going forward. 

By a strange coincidence, Toronto's free-fall began when Kadri was sent back down to the Marlies a few months ago. It is, of course, too late for him to impact Toronto's season now, but the timing of his call up is interesting. 

While he will be an emergency replacement, Burke may have the underlying intentions or hopes of showcasing Kadri in an attempt to up his trade value.

Regardless, with eight games left on the season, Toronto's former first-round draft pick will have yet another opportunity to prove his doubters wrong.


Follow Matt Wiseman on Twitter for up-to-date NHL news and analysis.