Cage Match: Nazem Kadri vs. Jakob Silfverberg

by Rick Roos on August 31, 2016

Jakob Silfverberg a better fantasy own than Nazem Kadri? Rick Roos says "yes" – and here's why…


This week’s match came to me as I was preparing the recent Breakout Forwards Tournament. It features two players – Nazem Kadri and Jakob Silfverberg – who enter 2016-17 as fantasy question marks. Does either have what it takes to fulfill once lofty expectations; and which is the better cost vs. value fantasy own for this season and down the road? Time to find out – Cage Match starts now!


Career Path and Contract Status

It seems like yesterday, but Kadri was drafted 7th overall…..back in 2009! After returning to the OHL to post 93 points in 56 games (fourth in points; second in points per game among top 10 scorers, ahead of Tyler Seguin and behind only Taylor Hall), Kadri seemingly had a clear and immediate path to stardom. Yet the next two campaigns saw Kadri play nearly twice as many games and produce considerably better in the AHL (81 points in 92 contests) versus the NHL (19 points in 50 contest).

Kadri was finally in the NHL for to stay once the 2012-13 lockout ended, tallying 44 points in 48 games and reigniting fantasy fanfare in the process. His 50 points for 2013-14 showed enough progress to satisfy poolies; but since then his production rate has diminished, with ten fewer points (84) in his most recent 149 games than in his 126 contests from 2012-2014, although he ended 2015-16 with 35 points in his final 51 games.

Drafted 39th overall the same year as Kadri, it’s easy to forget Silfverberg (who, like Kadri, turns 26 in October) was originally property of Ottawa, posting 19 points in 48 games with the Sens in 2012-13 following 29 points in 34 games in the AHL. Silfverberg was dealt to Anaheim, with a prospect and first round pick, for Bobby Ryan.

As a Duck, Silfverberg posted 23 points in 52 games in 2013-14, followed by 39 points in each of the past two seasons. But there’s been reason for optimism mixed in, first with Silfverberg posting 18 points in 16 playoff games in 2014-15 and then, last season, scoring 33 of his 39 total points in his final 46 games (including 11 goals in his final 15 contests) and five points in seven playoff tilts.

This season marks the start of Kadri’s six year, $27M contract ($4.5M cap hit/AAV), while it’s year two of Silfverberg’s four year, $15M deal ($3.75M cap hit/AAV).


Ice Time



Total Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

PP Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

SH Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)


18:16 (N.K.) – 1st

16:58 (J.S.) – 4th

2:40 (N.K.) – 6th

0:51 (J.S.) – 10th

0:04 (N.K.) – 15th (tied)

2:24 (J.S.) – 2nd


17:36 (N.K.) – 4th

15:39 (J.S.) – 4th

2:28 (N.K.) – 4th

0:35 (J.S.) – 13th

0:09 (N.K.) – 13th

1:45 (J.S.) – 3rd


17:23 (N.K.) – 5th

14:15 (J.S.) – 8th

2:22 (N.K.) – 5th

1:20 (J.S.) – 8th

0:08 (N.K.) – 10th

1:02 (J.S.) – 6th


16:04 (N.K.) – 6th

16:13 (J.S.) – 4th

2:12 (N.K.) – 5th

1:41 (J.S.) – 7th

0:10 (N.K.) – 8th

1:07 (J.S.) – 8th


Both had their highest Total Ice Time last season; however, Kadri’s gains were in EV and PP Ice Time, while almost half of Silfverberg’s came via undesirable SH Time. Normally that would be discouraging for Silfverberg owners; however, with Anaheim’s offseason coaching change, it’s possible he could be looking at a markedly improved situation. Beyond that, Silfverberg is arguably the only Ducks forward who’s at peak NHL age, with the rest of the top nine either born 1993 or later or 1987 or earlier. This won’t be lost on the Ducks and their “win now” mentality, and should benefit Silfverberg for the next several years.


Kadri was first among Leafs forwards in Total Ice Time, and although his 2:40 per game of PP Time looks great at first glance, it only put him 6th among Toronto forwards. Moreover, just one forward above him in PP Time (P.A. Parenteau) is no longer with the team, while not only are four who averaged 2:00-2:39 still there, but Auston Matthews and/or Mitch Marner could slot into top PP Time. Realistically, Kadri is unlikely to continue to see Ice Time gains for the rebuilding (and thus more youth focused) Leafs, and could end up with less Total and/or PP Time in 2016-17 and beyond.


Secondary Categories




(per game)


(per game)

Blocked Shots (per game)


(per game)

PP Points

(per game)


0.96 (N.K.)

0.39 (J.S.)

1.94 (N.K.)

1.06 (J.S.)

0.56 (N.K.)

0.70 (J.S.)

3.42 (N.K.)

2.62 (J.S.)

0.18 (N.K.)

0.05 (J.S.)


0.38 (N.K.)

0.29 (J.S.)

1.61 (N.K.)

0.52 (J.S.)

0.31 (N.K.)

0.45 (J.S.)

2.41 (N.K.)

2.33 (J.S.)

0.09 (N.K.)

0.05 (J.S.)


0.86 (N.K.)

0.23 (J.S.)

1.80 (N.K.)

0.59 (J.S.)

0.43 (N.K.)

0.38 (J.S.)

1.89 (N.K.)

2.29 (J.S.)

0.23 (N.K.)

0.02 (J.S.)


0.48 (N.K.)

0.25 (J.S.)

1.29 (N.K.)

0.79 (J.S.)

0.46 (N.K.)

0.27 (J.S.)

2.29 (N.K.)

2.79 (J.S.)

0.16 (N.K.)

0.06 (J.S.)


For Kadri, we see an odd pattern of up and down production in PIM, Hits, and PPPts. Lack of consistency along these lines, at this stage in his career, is frustrating, especially for poolies in one-year leagues. That having been said, even in down years Kadri is rock solid in Hits.


Silfverberg’s 2016-17 provided his best production in PIM, Hits, and Blocks, although his gains in the latter two were significant enough as to not be entirely sustainable. Then again, if they were to drop back down now it might well be due to him being called upon to play a more offensive role – a tradeoff fantasy owners would gladly take.


One consistent for Silfverberg has been horrible PP output, which can’t even be justified as a “chicken and egg” situation since in his first two seasons he received 1:41 and 1:20 per game yet still produced terribly. Although there’s precedent for solid scoring despite poor PPPts (Brad Marchand has three times posted 53+ points while combining for only 16 PPPts in those campaigns), Silfverberg reaching the 53+ threshold would likely require a more “Marchand-like” 18:00+ of top six time per game. The good news is Silfverberg could be in line for a healthy Ice Time increase, for the reasons noted above.


The enigma for both players is SOG. Since 2000-01, there’ve been 153 instances of a forward, in a single season, appearing in 75+ games while averaging 3.4 or more SOG per game. Of them, Kadri’s 0.59 points per game for 2015-16 represents the third lowest scoring rate in that same season (ahead of only David Booth and Brian Gionta from 2010-11), with 134 of the 153 posting 0.75 points per game or higher and 45% (i.e., 69 total) achieving point per game scoring.


There’s also intriguing SOG data for Silfverberg, whose rookie rate of 2.79 per game put him in very elite company, with the only others since 2000-01 who averaged 2.75+ per game in more than 40 contests in their first NHL season being Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Sidney Crosby, Jack Eichel, Alex Ovechkin, Dylan Larkin, Evgeni Malkin, Taylor Hall, and Ilya Kovalchuk. Also, despite only scoring 39 points last season, Silfverberg had the 39th (tied) most SOG among all forwards, with only one 75+ game forward among the 39 (Dustin Brown) not posting at least 45 points and two-thirds tallying 55+.


What can we make of both players seemingly underachieving given their SOG rate? For Kadri, the SOG disconnect might be a mirage or red herring, since his 2015-16 rate isn’t something we can be sure is sustainable. Not only was it a huge jump from prior levels, but it was achieved when the Leafs were largely undermanned. In contrast, Silfverberg’s rookie data can be logically compared to other rookies, and his rate for last season was actually a bit lower than as a rookie.


Another point worth noting – Kadri not only offers better multi-cat production, but FOW, albeit with some tradeoff in that he’s eligible only as a center on Yahoo leagues, versus Silfverberg, who, although only a RW, gives poolies output from a less deep position.


Luck-Based Metrics


Silfverberg’s 5×4 IPP for 2014-15 isn’t listed because he didn’t play the required 50+ total minutes.



Personal Shooting Percentage

PDO/SPSV (5×5)

IPP (5×5)

IPP (5×4)

Offensive Zone Starting % (5×5)


6.5% (N.K.)


973 (N.K.)

999 (J.S.)

60.6% (N.K.)

78.8% (J.S.)

60.0% (N.K.)

66.7% (J.S.)

52.4% (N.K.)

40.6% (J.S.)


10.2% (N.K.)

6.9% (J.S.)

1001 (N.K.)

1015 (J.S.)

66.7% (N.K.)

67.4% (J.S.)

54.5% (N.K.)

N/A (J.S.)

45.4% (N.K.)

48.8% (J.S.)


13.5% (N.K.)

8.4% (J.S.)

1010 (N.K.)

999 (J.S.)

68.9% (N.K.)

72.0% (J.S.)

94.4% (N.K.)

33.3% (J.S.)

49.3% (N.K.)

49.5% (J.S.)


16.8% (N.K.)

7.5% (J.S.)

1063 (N.K.)

1023 (J.S.)

84.6% (N.K.)

68.2% (J.S.)

77.8% (N.K.)

50.0% (J.S.)

47.7% (N.K.)

61.9% (J.S.)


Although there’s a lot of meaningful data for both players, the number that jumps off the page is Kadri’s 2012-13 PDO, which, at 1063, was leaps and bounds above the high end of what’s considered normal (i.e., 1030). Also, his IPPs were both over 70%, which hasn’t happened since then, making a strong case for his 2012-13 scoring being a fluke, especially when also considering his SOG and PPPts rates – shown above – being unspectacular for that season.


Beyond that, Kadri’s poor 2015-16 output came despite his highest OZ%. And although his personal shooting percentage for 2015-16 was quite low, some of that was likely due to his average shot distance jumping from 30.3 feet in 2014-15 to 31.6 in 2015-16.


Meanwhile, there’s plenty of room for optimism regarding Silfverberg’s 2015-16 data. For one, his combined IPPs were above 145, suggesting he drives his team’s offense when he’s on the ice, a fact that’s further supported by his 5×5 IPP never having been below 67.4%. And what make his 2015-16 IPPs all the more impressive is his 40.6% OZ%, which was 35th lowest among 290 forwards who played 60+ games in 2015-16. With an OZ% that tiny, there’s nowhere to go but up – perhaps way up – from there, especially under a new coaching regime and with Silfverberg in his NHL prime.


Also, Silfverberg’s jump from 13 goals in 2014-15 to 20 in 2015-16 checks out, as his personal shooting % only inched slightly upward. Moreover, Silfverberg’s 2015-16 PDO was the lowest of his career, which further suggests room for realistic improvement.


Who Wins?


I’m giving this match to Silfverberg. Nearly all data paints a problematic picture for Kadri; and that’s on top of him being negatively affected by what I refer to as the “Habs Factor,” which artificially elevates the cost to obtain players on the most high profile NHL squads. At this point, Kadri is in real danger of becoming a fantasy afterthought amid the youth movement that’s set to take hold in Toronto. His only hope might be a trade; but of course poolies can’t bank on that happening, let alone of it reawakening Kadri if it was to occur.


On the other hand, Silfverberg scored 20 goals last season despite an extremely low OZ% and nearly no PP scoring (but still with a solid 5×4 IPP). Plus, he’s entering his prime amid a mostly aging Anaheim top six, and has the benefit of a fresh start under a new coach. Also, although it was a small sample size, Silfverberg’s 18 points in 16 games in the 2014-15 playoffs doesn’t set off alarm bells, what with his Shooting % under 10%. In other words, he passes the sniff test as a player who should be able to do better if just given a sustained chance to succeed.


I’d target Silfverberg in keepers and one-year leagues, especially given his now well disguised production from the end of 2015-16. Kadri is a possible sell in keepers and probably not worthwhile in one-year leagues due to the Habs Factor, his eligibility only as a center, and his multi-cat prowess being already factored into his high cost.