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More about Nazem Kadri
When the Toronto Maple Leafs selected Nazem Kadri with their first pick (7th overall) expectations, as they always are in Toronto, were high. Unfortunately for the impatient fan base of a team that hadn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967 the young man who’d been a star in junior wasn’t immediately ready to make the jump. After playing a single game in the NHL he was returned to the London Knights where he enjoyed a stellar year, registering 93 points and attending the World Junior Hockey Championships where he was an impact player for Canada.
The following year expectations were even higher, and Kadri did manage to make the big club, but only registered 3 goals and 12 points in 29 games before being sent down the Leafs’ AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. In the minors Kadri continued to hone his game, and his numbers were good at that level, as he notched 41 points in 44 contests that year.
The following season was more of the same, with Kadri failing to impress at the NHL level before getting demoted and averaging nearly a point a game in the AHL.
In 2013, Kadri has finally started to live up to the promise that prompted the Leafs to take him so high in that 2009 draft. After 26 points in 27 AHL games during the NHL lockout, Kadri made the big club once again, but this time his production mirrors that of the minors. In just 21 contests to date he has 18 points, and his +8 rating is a clear indication that his play on the defensive side of the puck, an aspect of the game that had landed him in hot water in the past, has definitely improved.
Kadri also plays a gritty game, and his penchant for delivering hard bodychecks fits right in with the belligerent style that coach Randy Carlyle has his team playing.
Whether Kadri can continue to produce points at this pace is anybody’s guess, but it would seem he has finally managed to bring his game to the next level, and providing he doesn’t backslide into some of his old bad habits it is likely he is going to be a major part of the franchise for years to come, as the buds try to end the championship drought that has plagued them for decades.