By Peter Baracchini
Though Nazem Kadri is only 22, this season had a feel of boom or bust. After failing to find NHL footing in his first two pro seasons, this was year to prove he’s the impact player the Leafs envisioned when they drafted him 7th overall in 2009.
Even though he’s been featured mostly on the third line, the points are to rolling in, having found an early spark with fellow Marlies Matt Frattin and Leo Komarov. Kadri leads the Leafs in both assists (13) and points (18).
“It definitely takes a little bit of pressure off the first two lines,” said Kadri.
“Randy’s (Carlyle) forming a trust relationship with all of us and is able to throw us out there without him biting his nails. He understands that we’re offensive guys, but were reliable in our own end and we have good zone time and good puck possession.”
Kadri points to his development in the AHL as the biggest reason he is finding his stride in the big league.
“It’s definitely made me a lot more patient,” he said. “It’s not an easy league to play in down there; there are a lot of good players and you got to stick with it and definitely be patient. Now that I’m here it definitely feels like it’s paying off and it’s about time.
When it comes to his training and continued success at the pro level, he is taking everything one step at a time.
“I think I’ve just always tried to focus on the first few steps,” Kadri explained. “I’m not the biggest guy, but I know how to use my body well and once my core and lower body starts to fill out a little more I may be that much more explosive.”