The Toronto Maple Leafs came into this season without high expectations from many, no one predicted they would be playoff team. Most predictions had Toronto finishing between 8th-12th in the Eastern Conference, and having Kessel or Lupul lead the team in scoring. Well, as we have all noticed in pro sports, injuries happen and from injuries come opportunity. Nazem Kadri has made the most of his opportunities this season and through the Leafs first 9 games he leads the team in scoring.
Much of Kadri’s development can be attributed to Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins but the Leafs new bench boss deserves some credit too. After taking over for the ever unpopular Ron Wilson, Randy Carlyle has given Kadri a legitimate opportunity to be an offensive NHL player.
Getting Kadri into offensive opportunities and onto the powerplay has helped grow the youngster’s confidence and has allowed him to display why he was drafted 7th overall in 2009. So far this season Kadri has 3 goals 5 assists for 8 points in 9 games this season, already tying his point total over 21 games last season.
Nazem Kadri has taken notice of his new coach’s confidence in him and recently said:
“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.”
With Phil Kessel in a goalless drought and Joffrey Lupul on the IR for over a month Leafs nation will need to rely on guys like Kadri to step-up and providing the offence. It may have taken longer than many had hoped, but it appears that Nazem Kadri has finally arrived.