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Lombardi’s exit should mean a roster opening for Kadri. So far, the 21-year-old first rounder from 2009 has had an impressive camp. The only thing missing to complete Kadri’s NHL script this season was a roster opening — and that appears available with the 30-year-old Lombardi’s exit.
Ever since his draft, he’s had what can be argued as several opportunities to play with the Leafs. But his stints in the NHL have, arguably, been either too short, or not long enough for Kadri to prove himself worthy of a full-time job in a Leafs jersey.
Every season since he was drafted, the big picture with his development seemed to change. Much of it was something of a hockey soap opera — he wasn’t defensively responsible, he wasn’t in good enough shape. While the sensationalism kept him in the headlines, he drew weighty support from Don Cherry, who frequently chastised Leafs management for their failure to bring Kadri to the NHL level and leave him there.
On Wednesday, Kadri skated on a line with Tim Connolly and Matt Frattin. His projection is a top six forward, but he may now be part of a checking line. That would give the Leafs a third line capable of scoring, something seen with the top clubs in the league.