UHS LEAFS WATCH

Nazem Kadri

It’s funny how one’s memory can be cloudy when another person comes along and says,  ’I told you so!’  and then continues to dish out some non-interesting facts about the 1990 NHL draft year and then mentions players who have come and gone from that time.

Here’s what I mean. The 1990 draft produced some good talent – John Tavares, Victor Hedman, Matt Duchene and Evander Kane and also some players who are good but haven’t reached the full potential for some reason in the professional ranks – Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Ryan Ellis, Zach Kassian and Jared Cowan. Then you have a player who was stuck in between all the above mentioned players, who was rated high from the NHL Central Scouting and also was tagged ‘ Future First Line Center’ but it didn’t say when?

With a little research and some digging into the past, the Coach has brought up some interesting facts on this ‘First Line Center’ and this being non other then Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Kadri #43 was drafted 7th overall in the same year of Tavares, Duchene and Kane (still don’t think Kane is as good as He thinks he is but that’s another story) and was labeled  immediately as to soft, to small and only new one end of the rink (offence side). Well some of the comments may of been true at that time but now coming full circle with the Leafs in the 2012-2013 NHL shorten season, we now are seeing the ‘Real Deal’ in Kadri which I admit (believe me or not) I said 3 years ago that this kid can play just give him time to mature and work on the professional game.

Over these past three years the growth and development of Nazem Kadri has been a process like anything else that eventually becomes good. With the guidance of Head Coach Dallas Eakins of the Toronto Marlies, TML farm team, you can see the how Kadri has been getting better in all three zones on the ice and that my friends is why Kadri is up now with the big club. It is always mentioned that you can’t teach someone to score but you can teach that scorer how to play the game properly if given a chance.

Now I’m not taking anything away from the Leafs past coach, Ron Wilson, who seemed to have no time for #43 but maybe that was the best thing Mr.Wilson did for Kadri? Think about for a second, if Wilson kept him up with the big club and tried to let Kadri learn as he played against bigger and better players he might not be where he is going nowadays. But logic was at the fore front on the development for Nazem and the Leafs brass sent the kid down to the minors and the rest as we say is history.

You maybe wondering why I actually think that Ron Wilson might of been a smart guy at that time (I could of said smart-ass but I didn’t..wait I did!) Here’s a little bit of some back ground on Nazem Kadri who I think some will realize that this kid had the talent and will only get better as time moves on.

Playing his minor hockey in London, Ontario with the London Jr. Knights of the MHAO AAA Pavilion League, he was key member of the teams through Peewee to Minor Midget. On championship teams in peewee, bantam and minor midget before moving onto the OHL in 2006-07. His final year in minor midget he racked up 92 points in 62 games (49 goals-43 assists) and then when onto a outstanding OHL career playing first with his hometown London Knights then moving onto the Kitchener Rangers, helping them win the OHL Championship but losing out in the Memorial Cup to the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL. Then headed back to London for his final 2 seasons in Junior. Through his junior career he was chosen for All-Star games and invited to the WJC Team Canada’s selection camp but did not make it but did make it the following year 2010 and helping the Canada Team win Silver. Other awards included CHL Player of the Week, OHL Player of the Month and selection on the OHL Team in the Subway Super Series which plays against the Russian Junior National Team.

And now today we see the development of a young player moving in the right direction with confidence within himself and even more importantly confidence from his Head Coach, that being Randy Carlyle. Coach Carlyle has stated over and over again this season that Nazem has the talent but….”He still has somethings that we would like to cure.” But so far so good as he says and the numbers don’t lie.

2012-13: Leads Maple Leafs in assists (tie-20), points (33), plus/minus (+17) and PPG (tie-4), is second in goals (13) and third in shots (69) … Has eight points (2 goals, 6 assists) in his last three games (Mar. 16-21) … Registered three points (2 goals, 1 assist) and named second star Mar. 21 at BUF … Collected three assists, a +3 rating and named first star … Posted a seven-game point streak (Feb. 23-Mar. 7) with 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists) … Registered a goal, an assist and named second star Mar. 4 vs. NJD … Registered first NHL hat trick, posted a +3 rating and named first star Feb. 28 at NYI … Registered a goal, an assist and named second star Feb. 18 at FLA … Recorded at least one point in four consecutive games to start the season (Jan. 19-24) … Registered a goal and an assist Jan. 24 vs. NYI … now 8th in over-all scoring in the NHL…Played 27 games for the Toronto Marlies (AHL), collecting 26 points (8 goals, 18 assists) with 26 penalty minutes.

Are we surprised with all this? If you went and asked a few of Kadri’s team mates the answer is a no. Goaltender Ben Scrivens was quoted in a interview with the National Post the other day as saying, “People who know him and work with him every day, this isn’t surprising. No one goes, ‘Oh Wow, where’s this coming from?’ They go, ‘That’s what Naz can do.’

Let’s just hope the kid from London, Ontario, Nazem Kadri can continue to do what we all were hoping and new he could do and just keep on doing even better!

Until next time.

See you after the game.

Coach Nye