If Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Nazem Kadri doesn't start the year in the NHL he certainly won't be the only first round pick from 2009 playing in the minors. Scott Glennie, taken 8th overall, has already been demoted by the Dallas Stars and I'm sure when final training camp cuts are made across the NHL, there will be many other 2009 first round draft picks whose only glimpse of NHL action will be on their TV.
One look at the 2008 first round draft, the year prior to Kadri's, reinforces that it takes time for players to develop and crack the NHL. Three of the top 15 draft picks from '08 have yet to play a single NHL game, and four of the top 15 haven't played more than half a season. That's seven out of the top 15 2008 picks still waiting to break through.
Put another way: only five players born in Kadri's birth year, 1991, have played in the NHL and two of those played in one single game.
Only 17 players born in 1990 have cracked the NHL and they've averaged just 46 games to date.
Roll it back one more year to 1989 and, while the number nearly doubles, only 31 '89 born players have laced them up in the bigs so far, averaging a total of 52 games played in their careers.
For all the talk about the NHL becoming a young man's league, last season only 53 of over 700 players were 20 and under - that's about 3% of the NHL.
Making Plans for
Now, I'm not making excuses for Kadri and I'm not saying he's a bust. He certainly doesn't look so hot compared to the pre-season that Magnue Paajarvi-Svensson, drafted 10th, is having in Edmonton. I also I have no idea as to what's best for Kadri's long-term development, but I don't think starting in the AHL is an indictment of a player's talent or character.
If Kadri isn't with the Leafs out of training camp next year, then it's time to worry. For now, it looks like he's following the typical development curve.