Now is the time to add Nazem Kadri to your fantasy team if he's available.

When it comes to finding the next up and coming breakthrough fantasy player, the most difficult thing is always timing. We all know the players that have the potential to become everyday fantasy players, but how do you know when?

Last season, if you would have held on to Aleksander Barkov for the whole season waiting for the breakout, then you would have been disappointed for a whole year. Conversely if you didn’t want to waste a roster spot on the hope that Nikita Kucherov broke out, then you would have missed the boat on his huge season. These are two players who we all knew had good potential going into the season, but none of us knew which one would come through (and I suspect a lot of us would have thought it would be Barkov).

Adding the right guy at the right time is a tough thing to do, but this week I think I have a player who is poised for a breakout, and there is still room to get in on the ground floor. That player is Nazem Kadri.

Coming off of a 39-point season and playing on a team that should challenge for the first overall pick in the 2016 draft, Nazem Kadri has been far from a sought-after commodity. Kadri has an average draft position of 169th this season and has only been picked in 6 percent of all drafts. His overall ownership has been climbing, but he is still available in 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

With only two points in four games, it’s hard to say that you should be rushing to pluck this guy off of the waiver wire, but I ran the Fantasy Hockey Geek numbers and I’m here to tell you that you should.

(12 team Yahoo! league measuring G, A, PPP, SOG, Hits. All stats are as of Saturday morning)

Rank

Player

Games Played

G

A

SOG

PPP

HITS

51

Nazem Kadri

4

1

1

21

1

6

 

As you can see from the above chart, Kadri is currently the 51st most valuable player in a league of this format despite his modest 41-point pace. It’s far too early to place a lot of weight on the early-season value, but the fact that he is so high up on the list makes me want to look a little deeper into the numbers.

The number one reason that Kadri’s ranking is so high is his shots on goal. His 21 shots in four games is an elite level number (currently third overall in the league). While I doubt that his current shot rate is sustainable, it as a great sign of things to come for two reasons. The first being that the shots themselves obviously add value in leagues that count shots, and the second being that an increase in shot rate is almost always accompanied by an increase in points. (I hope Nathan Gerbe isn’t reading this.)

Another reason that Kadri is up on the list is that he hits. The league I am looking at here has hits as a category instead of penalty minutes, which helps Kadri greatly. Kadri does contribute a fair number of penalty minutes as well but not to the level of his hits. On the season, he is averaging 1.5 hits per game which is a 120+ hit pace – a very good number for a centre who can put up some points.

It’s also prudent to remember that Kadri is just two years removed from a 50-point season. While 50 points isn’t necessarily anything to write home about, look at his value that season thanks to his ability to contribute in the hit category.

Rank

Player

Games Played

G

A

SOG

PPP

HITS

92

Nazem Kadri

78

20

30

148

18

141

 

Kadri was the 92nd most valuable player in this particular league two years ago, which is a pretty solid result for a player who is currently largely unowned.

To add to all of the above factors, Kadri is now a focal point in Toronto. He leads the team in powerplay ice time and really seems to be excelling under the Babcock regime. The points aren’t there yet, but there is enough evidence to suggest to me that the points are coming. Dobber has Kadri’s career upside as 77 points, which he isn’t going to hit this season, but in the guide Dobber did list Nazem as a sleeper for 65. I believe Kadri could get close to that.

So where will Kadri go from here? His current shot pace of four per game isn’t likely to keep up, but I do think that three per game is achievable and that’s a 246-shot pace. Personally, I think that 60 points is a number that Kadri could eclipse relatively easily given his current opportunity, and I also know that he’s a lock for 120 hits over the course of the season. I would give an outlook on Kadri that looks like this:

G: 24

A: 36

PPP: 18

SOG: 240

Hits: 120

PIM: 50

Again, this is very good multi-cat output from a player who is being selected towards the end of drafts (if at all). Use the What-If tool on Fantasy Hockey Geek for your specific league and take a look at how much Kadri would be worth if my predictions come through. I would guess that in most leagues, Kadri is certainly worth owning and probably a player who could contribute a lot of value to your team. After you’ve run the numbers on FHG, get to the waiver wire and pick this guy up!