Usually by this stage of the playoffs, Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri is sitting on the sidelines with a multi-game suspension. At least that was the case when the 29-year-old played for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Boston Bruins in the 2018 and 2019 postseasons.
Although Kadri showed character and heart on a Maple Leafs squad that apparently lacks much of both, general manager Kyle Dubas pulled the trigger on a trade in July, 2019 which saw him head to Denver. In return, the Leafs picked up defenceman Tyson Barrie and forward Adam Kerfoot. And Even though Barrie’s one of the NHL’s premier offensive blue liners it’s a deal which Colorado looks to have already won hands down.
Kadri was the longest-serving member of the Leafs when the trade came down and a fan favourite even with the playoff bans on his resume. He racked up 167 goals and 357 points in 561 games for Toronto with 10 points in 19 outings. He also posted two consecutive 32- seasons even though he was often used as a checking pivot.
When he arrived in Colorado, Kadri had a reputation as a gritty player but a hot-head who would sometimes cross the line. However, he fit like a glove with the team and produced 19 goals and 36 points for the squad in 51 games this season despite missing 19 contests due to injury. His presence helped Colorado place second in the Central Division and earned the team a bye from the playoff qualifying series.
Since the NHL resumed play in this Covid-19-riddled campaign, Kadri has been one of the league’s top scorers as he’s chipped in with four goals and nine points in seven games with a league-leading four power-play markers and three game-winners. In addition, his Corsi numbers show that the Avalanche definitely outplay their opponents and have greater puck possession while he’s on the ice.
Unless the Avalanche collapse like the Maple Leafs have been prone to do, Kadri should find himself in the second round of the playoffs for the first time in his pro career. They have a 3-1 series lead over the Arizona Coyotes and are on the verge of getting the job done with a lot of help from their new centre.
His success won’t come as a surprise to Maple Leafs’ fans since players they trade away typically find the grass to be greener elsewhere and thrive with new teams. Players such as Carl Gunnarson, Alex Steen, Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, James van Riemsdyk, Jake Gardiner, and Kadri are all competing in the playoffs this year while the Leafs polish their golf clubs.
The Avalanche and their fans weren’t really sure what they were getting though as Kadri’s reputation as something of a troublemaker preceded his arrival in the Rockies. They’ve been pleasantly surprised and pleased with the results and with the team having an abundance of youthful talent there’s a chance the franchise will capture its third Stanley Cup this year.
And if it does, Kadri’s sure to get the accolades he deserves as long as his history of playoff suspensions doesn’t repeat itself one more time.
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