Nazem Kadri has played for the Toronto Maple Leafs for the last three seasons. However, under head coach Ron Wilson, the 22-year-old forward never really developed as the Leafs hoped the seventh overall draft pick would.
On Thursday night, Kadri was the Leafs strongest asset against the New York Islanders. Although, the Leafs lost 7-4 at home, Kadri registered a goal and an assist. He has put up points in every game so far.
Kadri has earned his place on the first line with Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak, especially during the powerplay and late in the game.
Kadri recognizes that he wasn’t playing up to his full potential until this season. He credits new head coach, Randy Carlyle, with changing the way he feels about playing for the Toronto club.
Kadri told the CBC:
“Before I didn’t really get the impression that I was kind of wanted in the lineup or I really deserved the minutes that I may have gotten,” Kadri said following Friday’s practice. “With Randy it’s a whole different ballgame.”
“He makes me feel like I belong here and I can be a big contributor here and I feel like that as well. As a young guy I just needed others to believe in me as well.”
However, it wasn’t just Wilson who wasn’t a fan of Kadri. It isn’t a big secret that former Leafs General Manger Brian Burke never had well wishes for Kadri.
Burke and Wilson both lost their jobs due to changes in the Leafs ownership. The club was sold to last year and since has undergone major changes after an embarrassing 2011-2012 season.