Geek of the Week: An Ad-Nazem Review

by Mike Zacour on April 21, 2019


This week we’re going to discuss Nazem Kadri.  We’ll avoid talking about the “remainder of the series” suspension until the end of the article.  And we won’t be looking at the actual incident that garnered him the suspension (enough has already been said about that). 

Instead we’re going to try to put emotions around the player aside (positive or negative) and focus on fantasy value moving forward. 

Similar to buying a good blue chip stock, we must always remember to look at the underlying quality of the company (or player) and pit that against a poor quarterly result or negative short-term news (like a suspension or unsustainably low statistics).  This is where we will find value and the edge most fantasy managers are looking for.

The first stat that really stood out for me when looking at Kadri this season was his shooting percentage.  He took 184 shots and only converted on 8.7 percent of them for 16 goals (an 82-game pace of 207 shots and 18 goals). 

Shots on goal were slighty down this year from the previous two, but nothing to be overly concerned about as he’s still taking more than 2.5 shots per game. 

The shooting percentage is another story altogether.  Over the past two seasons Kadri converted at a rate of 14.3 percent.  Kadri’s career regular season shooting percentage is 11.6 percent. 

Essentially, Kadri is a better scorer than he displayed this season and there is no reason to believe he won’t regress positively next year.  It’s relatively safe to put him in the 11-14 percent conversion range next season, and if he is a bit lucky he could shoot over 15 percent, which would easily put him over 30 goals again.

Kadri put up 28 assists this year and totaled 44 points.  He has seen a two-year decline in point production from his high of 61 in 2016-17. 

Kadri is generally good for at least a hit per game. As well, he showed his best-ever performance in the face-off circle winning 55 percent of his draws this season. So if your league counts faceoffs, he was a pleasant surprise percentage wise, although he took less face-offs than he normally does. This is likely due to the addition of John Tavares.

Kadri’s Individual Points Percentage (IPP) was a bit low this season at 61.1.  We should expect that to be closer to 70 next year, which should help his point production.

If you’re in a cap league, Kadri comes in at a very palatable $4.5 million hit through to the 2021-22 season.  That contract already looks great and should age exceptionally well as each year passes.

Despite Kadri’s inconsistency from last season to this season as well as the addition of Tavares to the lineup, Mike Babcock has been remarkably consistent with Kadri’s deployment.  He continued to average over 16 minutes per game this season (room to improve), with just over two of those minutes coming on the power play.  The previous two seasons, Kadri averaged about one shift more per game and almost 30 seconds less power-play time per game than he did this year. 

The Leafs’ power play is always something to keep an eye on as they have a lot of candidates for the top unit.  At times Babcock has gone with a 1a/1b philosophy and if he’s not on the 1a then Kadri is all but guaranteed to be on the 1b unit.  So a drop in power-play time shouldn’t be a huge concern despite the plethora of talented forwards in Toronto.

Using standard Yahoo Head-to-Head Points scoring (private leagues only) we can see where Kadri ranked this season using the Fantasy Hockey Geek tool:
 

Rank

Player

GP

G

A

+/-

SOG

PPP

BKS

Fantasy

Points

306

Blake Coleman

77

22

14

-19

210

3

44

389

307

Nazem Kadri

74

14

28

-6

183

13

14

389

308

Jimmy Vesey

79

17

18

-5

151

4

33

341


Not to take anything away from Coleman and Vesey, but Kadri is a better overall player than both of them in almost every way, and next season he will play on a deeper and more productive team (likely with better linemates) than either of them.  This is not the statistical company we should expect Kadri to be keeping by the end of next season. 

Savvy fantasy general managers ought to be rooting for an average to below average playoff performance for Kadri should the Leafs get past the Bruins in Round 1.  If the Leafs blow their first-round lead (would that shock anyone at this stage given the history?) then the stock in Kadri will remain low and it is very likely to carry over into a lot of drafts next season.

It would be irresponsible not to factor in the potential for Kadri to get suspended again next year (or the season after).  There is definitely a Brad Marchand-ian feeling around him currently.  

Leading the league in headshot suspensions is not an admirable NHL record to hold, and it leads one to believe it’s only a matter of time until we see another offense. 

The unorthodox “remainder of series” suspension shouldn’t cloud anyone’s judgement here.  Look at it as a five (playoff) game suspension that in the regular season would roughly translate to a 10-game suspension. 

It shouldn’t surprise anyone if Kadri’s next suspension comes in around the 15-20 game mark (or 10ish playoff games), especially if we see another head shot.

Regardless of how you feel about Kadri, if we are to look at drafting him it would be reckless not to consider a potential future suspension.  How much of a consideration will vary between league setup, roster, and general manager risk tolerance level. 

As things stand currenlty expect Kadri to fall in a lot of drafts next year.  Taking emotions out of it and making decisions around players like Kadri in the mid-later rounds is what makes this a whole lot of fun.

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