Report: Maple Leafs haven’t engaged Kadri, Reimer in extension talks

Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ November turnaround has been driven largely by goaltending, though special teams play and the surprising sturdiness of Toronto’s first line have also been major contributors. 

Driving the bus in all of these areas are goaltender James Reimer and first-line centre Nazem Kadri, both pending free agents (Kadri will be restricted, Reimer will hit the open market). 

Reimer and Kadri are 25 and 27 respectively, so they’re young enough to project as being, perhaps, contributing pieces on a future contending iteration of the Maple Leafs. Though both players have performed very well for the Maple Leafs, the club has yet to reach out to their representatives to discuss the possibility of a contract extension, according to a report from Sportsnet’s Damien Cox.

“Nothing has been decided,” Cox wrote on Thursday of Reimer and Kadri’s situations, “and there are no contract talks as of yet with either player or their representatives.”

Now, of course, this detail is interesting, but it’s not worth your panic or consternation. Kadri is on a one-year deal and is ineligible to sign an extension prior to January 1, and anyway there is plenty of time remaining prior to July 1 to work out extensions with these two popular Maple Leafs players if the club elects to do so.

That’s especially true of Kadri, who has arbitration rights, and to whom the Maple Leafs can extend a qualifying offer, which would preserve the club’s right of first refusal. 

One thing that Kadri and Reimer have in common – despite facing different types of free agency, and playing totally different positions – is that working out a team-friendly valuation of their contributions could prove a bit complicated. Reimer has been dynamite, and for years has been a decent bet to provide his teams with above average quality goaltending. He’s been inconsistent, though, and has still yet to start 40 games in a season. I’d think it’ll be hard for his agent to argue that he’s even a credible 1B-type goaltender.

And complicating things further, of course, is Jonathan Bernier’s situation. Bernier is signed through next season with a cap hit and salary above $4 million. The Maple Leafs have a good deal of flexibility under the salary cap’s upper limit, but it’s hard to imagine the super progressive Shanahan regime rolling with a goalie tandem that costs more than $7.5 million combined against the salary cap.

Kadri, meanwhile, has radically altered his game to become a shoot-first type centreman rather than a pure distributor. The peripheral numbers would suggest that Kadri’s evolution has been a massive success, but the counting stats haven’t followed (yet). 

I wouldn’t count on the low number of points Kadri has recorded so far – even if it persists throughout the course of the reason – to neuter his negotiating leverage. Even if his case is heard by a third-party arbiter, Kadri’s camp will be able to point to some very easy-to-understand statistics as proof of his value: like how he’s leading all Maple Leafs forward in ice time by more than 30 second per game and how he’s near the top of the league in shots on goal. 

There should be little doubt that Kadri’s remaining restricted seasons are worth close to $5 million, and his unrestricted seasons could be in the $6 million range. 

As the season rolls along it’ll be fascinating to watch how these situations play out. If Reimer and Kadri can sustain the form they’ve shown so far, there’s no doubt that they’re going to get paid this summer. Whether or not it’s the Maple Leafs who ultimately open the vault for them, remains to be seen.

This post was edited after publication to include the detail that Kadri is ineligible to sign an extension prior to January 1.

  • Gary Empey

    Kadri is 25, Reimer 27, you got it backwards. Uh, also, as my first comment here after reading this blog for years, I feel I should say: awesome work guys! Love all the content!

  • CMpuck

    Reimer has 10 if that good games and is line for an extension, this is JFJ/Nonis like but Reimer is an internet darling so thumbz it down monkeyz.

    If Kadri can sustain this? He’ll get paid for an 8 goal season on a 1st line?

  • Gary Empey

    Suggesting that Kadri’s evolution has been a massive success seems a bit of a stretch.

    Any first line center that is producing points like a third line center, is not likely to be in a good negotiating position. It is hard to negotiate intangibles.

    Leafs will need to be careful when negotiating with Reimer. At 27 years of age for a lot of goalies, this is often when they hit their prime.

    CMpuck’s point on Reimer only having 10 good games is unfair. This is Reimer’s sixth year with the Leafs. We have seen him carry the team many times. In those six years his save percentage has never been below .900, in spite of some awful defensive play by the rest of the team.

    • magesticRAGE

      I agree with u on the reimer part, he has played excellent and deserves what he’s getting, if not more. I think you’re right that it may be hard to use intangibles to a case sometimes, but I think the leafs have made the changes they’ve made to management bc of the fact that the old management didn’t see the true quality of a player…the new management group will (and already do) see Kadri beyond the points he produces. They see his talent to draw penalties, maintain puck possession, start plays, etc. he definitely needs to head to the front of the net more, that will help, but I think he will still get the money he wants ($5.5ish mil) bc of the other qualities he has.

  • jimithy

    Kadri has negotiating leverage because he’s near the top of the league in shots on goal?? Congrats, you shoot the puck a lot. Try actually putting it in the net.

    • magesticRAGE

      Really? That’s kinda narcissistic. Some shots he makes are from quality areas or on screened plays, and even for deflection purposes. The kid has been solid, putting up 1st line metrics, passing all eye tests. He’s getting signed and paid, period.

  • Gary Empey

    Marlies 3 Crunch 1

    1. TOR Leivo, (6) (Brennan, Arcobello), (PP)

    2. TOR Carrick, (3) (Brennan, Frattin),

    2. TOR Gauthier, (2) (Campbell, Clune),

    Nylander scratched

  • jimithy

    Kadri’s massive success has nothing to show for itself except complete failure. Perimeter hockey is unproductive. Being a prima donna will only be acceptable by Joe Blow if you’re productive. If you are not productive then you are not successful and you can never be a prima donna. Just ask Joe Blow. Why should Joe Blow pay this bum anything if he does nothing?

  • TGT23

    I bet a lot of the “Kadri sucks because his point totals suck” are the same people who though Clarkson was a great signing because he scored 30 once.

    Kadri is playing good hockey and not being rewarded for it. Any idiot can see he’s played very well, created a ton of scoring chances, been better defensively, and has become a very good offensive threat at C. Easily a 2nd line guy with 1st line upside.

    If you’re looking at his bad luck and deducing he’s bad because of it you clearly don’t watch or understand the game.

    Do you HONESTLY think he’ll score at 1 goal per 100 shots all season? Do you not believe if he continues creating offense eventually hell be rewarded?

    • Gary Empey

      Most of us, all like Kadri. Here we are commenting on his next contract. This year he is on a one year $4,100,000 ” show me” contract. When it comes to signing or making trades, points seem to be king for a top six forward. Has he “shown you” he has become a 6 million dollar man?

      • TGT23

        Trust me. Most of the comments here don’t.

        As for his next contract, I don’t know about 6 but I’d suspect a 2-3 year deal in the 5’s somewhere. Or high 4’s. Won’t be less than Bozy. His agent will see to that.

  • Gary Empey

    One thing that is hurting Kadri’s stats could be JVR. JVR is the primary shooter on that line. Kadri is the primary playmaker on that line. Kadri has been asked to get a lot of pucks on the net. Most of these shots are not expected to find the back of the net but are expected to create scoring chances for his wingers. There is always a lot of luck in this type of play. Komarov seems to be getting his expected share as the primary defensive forward. JVR may be ill suited for the stand in front of the net looking for deflections or rebounds. What JVR excels at is flying down the wing and taking a pass, then burying it. (Remember those beautiful passes Kessel used to feed him). We may see Babcock make a change to the make-up of the 1st line to get a better overall fit. Or not.