Saturday, 26 January 2013

Is This The Year For Nazem Kadri?

Nazem Kadri celebrates scoring his third
goal of the 2013 season
When the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted Nazem Kadri seventh overall in the 2009 entry draft, they had high hopes for the former London Knight forward who showcased an amazing set of hands alongside great playmaking abilities. But as the years passed in Toronto, Nazem Kadri hasn't been able to find a regular spot in the line-up, despite multiple opportunities being called up over the last three seasons.

So this past off-season Kadri worked hard so that when the season came around he could prove that he deserved a regular spot on the roster. But things didn't quite work out when the NHL and NHLPA couldn't come to a collective bargaining agreement and the NHL went into a lockout. So Kadri started the season for the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League as he awaited the lockout to end. It wasn't the start to the new season that he was looking for, but what made matters worse was when his coach in the Marlies, Dallas Eakins, questioned his play and even benched him at one point during the AHL season.

But once the NHL came back, Kadri had his chance to prove his worth to the Leafs, and thus far he has been playing better than most would have expected. He is playing hard, going into the dirty areas when needed, and he isn't hesitating to try to make a play in the offensive zone. His defensive play, which has been criticized in the past, has also greatly improved.

Kadri has played all of the first four games for the Maple Leafs this season, and leads his team with three goals and five points. Two of his three goals were scored on the powerplay, which is an area where the Leafs have been struggling and look towards a player like Kadri for help.

So Kadri is off to a good start to the 2013 NHL season, but his biggest goal to overcome is consistency. Kadri has been inconsistent in previous years after being called up. He would look great for the first few games and then get a bit comfortable and his game would suffer. With Matt Frattin and a few others trying to gain a regular spot on the Leafs line-up, Kadri needs to play with urgency every game to remain an effective piece of the Maple Leafs.