As it relates to the Maple Leafs, not a whole lot is known at this point. Sitting with 3 wins and 3 losses the team has shown some glimpses of being a potential playoff team, while also demonstrating defensive lapses in line with their lottery pick of a year ago. Below are some of what we know and don't know as the early season marches on.
What we know
1. Nazem Kadri is not going back to the AHL. With an impressive 6 points in 6 games (3G, 3A) Kadri is flashing some of the offensive potential that made him the 7th overall draft pick in 2009. Nazem has that rare ability to slow down the pace of a game when he’s in possession of the puck, seemingly having an extra half second of decision making. It’s the type of offensive imagination and flair that fans have always pined for in Tyler Bozak as a first line center. If Kadri can continue his growth this season, you have to believe he’ll have a real opportunity to crack the first line heading into the 2013-14 season.
2. Nikolai Kulemin has not regained his scoring touch. In 2010-11 Kulemin recorded a career best 30 goals and 27 assists. Last year he plummeted to only 7 goals, leaving many pundits to wonder what exactly happened to the well-rounded top 6 forward they had come to know. During the lockout Kulemin played alongside reigning Hart and Art Ross trophy winner Evgeni Malkin for Metallurg of the KHL, registering 38 points in 36 games. The expectation being that Kulemin could carry over some of this offensive momentum and reaffirm his position in the Leafs top 6. With zero goals through 6 games (he does have 5 assists) it appears his NHL scoring slump has carried forward to this season. He still brings accountability and effort to the defensive end, but on a team missing Joffrey Lupul and desperately in need of consistent scorers it remains to be seen if Kulemin can get back to form.