Looking Back at Nazem Kadri’s Career with the Toronto Maple Leafs

After spending a decade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Nazem Kadri returns with a new team

Nazem Kadri will make his first return to Toronto tonight since being traded by the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Colorado Avalanche this offseason in exchange for Tyson Barrie and Alex Kerfoot.

Kadri was one of the most emotionally invested players for the Leafs during his time here, but sometimes those emotions got the best of him, especially during the playoffs.

There is no secret the Leafs were missing Nazem Kadri in the past two playoff series against Boston, in which he missed three games in 2018, and five in 2019, all due to suspensions. He was one of the only physical players on the Leafs, and against a Boston team that was throwing hits.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Nazem Kadri

After being drafted seventh overall in 2009 by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kadri had a remarkable 93-point season with the London Knights in which he would tie for fourth in all OHL scoring behind names such as Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin. Kadri had 35 goals, and also had 105 penalty minutes, which was a clear sign of the type of player he was going to be.

Kadri’s physical presence combined with his offensive skill were two aspects of his game that were bound to translate well on an NHL level.

Kadri was also a force for the London Knights in the playoffs, posting 18 goals and 30 assists for 48 points in 26 playoff games for a 1.84 points per game average in his career there.

Kadri’s best year with the Toronto Maple Leafs was in the 2016-17 season, when he scored 61 points, finished second on the Leafs in goals, while also recording a career high 95 penalty minutes and was second in Leafs forwards for hits (119). Kadri is at his best when he is able to play physically, and while at times he can be a liability that way, he is someone you would rather be playing with than against. (Stats Courtesy of HockeyDB.com)

When John Tavares signed with the Leafs in the summer of 2018, Nazem Kadri’s role was suddenly in question. In order for Kadri to make an impact, he needed to be playing on a top-six role, and his numbers dropped significantly, recording just 16 goals on the year after scoring 32 in the past two seasons.

$4.5 million for a third line center who is not producing due to the overwhelming talent in the position within the organization is hard to argue keeping, and the past two playoff suspensions felt like the final reason to make a move.

Since joining the Avalanche, Kadri has been able to get back on pace to attaining numbers similar to his best season in Toronto. With 10 goals and 20 points through 26 games, Kadri is excelling in his second line role and is getting top power play time, which has improved his minutes by over 1.5 minutes from 16:11 with the Maple Leafs to 17:52. (Stats Courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com)

As of right now, the Avalanche should be extremely happy with the way this trade has panned out. Kadri slots in perfectly for them on the second line, and has stepped up huge in the absence of their injured and notable forwards such as Gabriel Landeskog and Andre Burakovsky. Colorado is my personal dark horse pick as Stanley Cup contenders, and if Kadri continues to play well and stay disciplined, he could play a huge part in making a deep playoff run.

It is unfortunate that things had to end the way they did with Kadri, as he seemed to feel mistreated during the process of being traded, but I think all Leafs fans should be happy to see him get an opportunity to excel in the role he deserves to play in.