SASKATOON--Too early to tell if Nazem Kadri will ever be a Maple Leaf regular, let alone a star.
But after watching the young centre play four games at this year's world junior championships, three against also-ran competition and one against a surprisingly fast and strong U.S. team, this much seems true.
In terms of pure skill and creativity, he made stand alone in the history of Leaf draftees.
Now, cynics will say that doesn't mean a whole lot given the club's drafting history, one dotted with a long list of, for example, big lumbering defencemen.
But Kadri is, it's fair to say, what Brandon Convery was supposed to be when Cliff Fletcher drafted him in '92. Shifty, imaginative and fast.
Darryl Sittler was bigger, more of a power forward. Lanny McDonald was a straight sniper. Russ Courtnall was a speedster. Gary Leeman was a versatile player who had one golden year. Wendel Clark was a power forward with a booming wrist shot. Brad Boyes, traded before he ever developed, also was a shooter, not a playmarker.
Kadri is part playmaker, part sniper, and with an attitude. His throat slashing gesture earlier this week against Switzerland was strictly bush, but the kid's got loads of personality to go with his talent, and he doesn't mind taking the odd run at an opponent.
In terms of personality, not style, he's a little like a smaller version of Ryan Getzlaf. Or a noisier version of Daymond Langkow.
There will be nights when he maddens the fans by not getting enough done, but it seems likely there will also be nights when he'll make the crowd go "oooooh." His juicy shootout move against the U.S. on Thursday night was a thing of beauty, a clutch exhibition of skill at a big moment.
Team Canada head coach Willie Desjardins obviously thinks enough of Kadri to play him alongside Taylor Hall on the second line, and then with Halll, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Ellis and Alex Pietrangelo on the No. 1 power play unit.
Leaf fans worried about the two first rounders sacrificed for Phil Kessel and convinced Brian Burke is headed down the same draft-schmaft path as so many of his predecessors would do well not to forget that Kadri is showing signs of developing into a top six NHL forward.
It's still to early to tell, and how Kadri performs in the remainder of Canada's games - either a semi and a gold medal game or a semi and a bronze game - will provide a little more information.
But if you look at Leaf drafting history, he's unique.