Four NHL general managers and three times that many scouts sat high above the ice at First Niagara Center, all of them marvelling at the unexpected phenom, Nazem Kadri.
It is that apparent and that unexpected what this young man is doing in his first full-time tour of duty as a Maple Leaf.
Even in shootout defeat, a big point blown, a big-game blown against the wonky Buffalo Sabres — really, the Leafs needed this win — Kadri left his signature on this game, this league, this time.
“I saw him around Christmas with the Marlies,” said Phoenix general manager Don Maloney. “He didn’t do much. And I thought, you know, maybe he’s not going to make it.
“And we all make the same mistake in this business. We want to rush our kids and have them play right away. We want to make snap decisions. And when they don’t do what we want, too often we give up on them.”