At the ACC today for the pregame skate, as the Leafs have another exhibition game tonight against the Sabres. It's their sixth preseason game in seven days, and the big news appears to be Tim Brent being in the lineup and Nazem Kadri skating with the scratches.
The Kadri business has descended into silliness a little bit, as it's really not that big of a deal if he spends a season in the minors. I wrote about a month ago that his personality puts him somewhere between cocky and confident, but I also don't have a problem with that from a 19-year-old prospect.
He hasn't played well -- in fact, he's played worse than he did in preseason last year -- but he's acknowledged that and has handled it fairly well. It's too early to yet tell how good of a player he'll project to be, as is often the case with players right out of junior, but many good NHLers have spent time in the AHL and improved in what is a pretty good league for young players.
Kadri talked about Brian Burke's critical comments after he came off the ice this afternoon.
"It kind of lights a little fire up under me," Kadri said. "Him saying those things publicly doesn't affect me at all -- if anything, it just motivates me. I think everyone knew, even before Burkie said those comments, that I needed to be better and I know myself I need to be better."
He also addressed the absurd about of speculation about him in the media these days.
"It comes with the territory," Kadri said. "I guess being drafted first round, you're under the microscope a little bit, I don't mind it. It doesn't really affect my mental toughness in any way. I just got to keep handling my business. It's in my control whether or not I make this team and it's in my control whether or not I keep getting better or not."
Wilson was asked if Kadri will get into another preseason game.
"It's hard to say," Wilson said. "Probably in Ottawa, but there's a couple other guys I have to look at, too. Without disrupting what we're trying to do. He's had lots of opportunities to make an impression, and I'm going to try to give him another opportunity. I think maybe it'll come. He's got to realize the situation he's in and get the job done -- not talk his way out of how he's played up to this point. He's got to actually do it."
A couple other highlights from what Wilson had to say (full audio is at the bottom):
On the roster he has playing against the Sabres: "Pretty much our lineup, as I see it, is going tonight."
Wilson added the caveat that Fredrik Sjostrom, who is recovering from shoulder surgery and will get into his first action likely Wednesday in Ottawa, is part of the group that will be in the lineup once the season starts.
On Brent's surprise appearance in the lineup: "Timmy's played really well, he deserves to be here right now."
Full audio from Wilson, Kadri and Brent today: