Crystal Balling Nazem Kadri

While taking in Tuesday night’s stunning comeback by the Toronto Maple Leafs, a friend asked me what I thought Nazem Kadri’s career would look like 15 years from now.  I took a couple of minutes to give it some thought, then turned to my friend and offered him a career retrospective for the Leafs’ 2009 7th overall draft pick.

Nazem Kadri played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota Wild, Dallas Stars, Vancouver Canucks, New York Rangers, and Los Angeles Kings.

Coming out of junior hockey, he was considered one of the top prospects in 2009 and the Toronto Maple Leafs selected him seventh overall in the Entry Draft.

In 2008-09, Kadri scored 25 goals and 53 assists for 78 points in 56 games with the London Knights.  After being drafted by the Leafs, Kadri spent another year in the OHL before appearing in just 14 games with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.  Kadri scored 14 points in 14 games before being called up by the Maple Leafs in 2010-11, who were in dire need for scoring help at the time.  As a rookie with Toronto, he scored 12 goals and 22 points in 65 games.  Although his goal production was not as high as the Leafs had hoped for, his speed opened up opportunities, especially for his linemates.

In 2011-12, (playing alongside Clarke MacArthur and Phil Kessel on what was dubbed The Speed Line) Kadri broke the 20-goal barrier, notching 22 to go along with 38 assists for 60 points.  His offensive numbers improved the following year with 29 goals and 73 points.

In trying to force Kadri to play a tougher brand of hockey, the club saw his offensive production decrease in 2013-14.  After just nine games in 2014-15, the Maple Leafs dealt Kadri to the Montreal Canadiens for enforcer Jarred Tinordi.   Although Kadri’s stock had clearly gone down in the eyes of the Maple Leafs’ management, most observers felt Montreal got a steal in that trade.

In 64 games, Kadri put up 39 points with the Habs, but his fast skating and stickhandling abilities made him a fan favourite.  Kadri saved his best performance for the playoffs, where the Canadiens advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing to the Calgary Flames.  In 21 post-season games, Kadri contributed 8 goals and 13 points.

Kadri enjoyed another two-and-a-half years in Montreal before joining the Minnesota Wild for the 2017-18 season.  In 82 games, he managed a career high 79 points.  He followed that up with an 80 point season the following year.  Late in the 2019-20 season, Kadri was traded to the Vancouver Canucks where he teamed with former London Knights teammate and ex-Bruins Jared Knight, for 13 games that year.

In 2022-23, Kadri signed as a free agent with the L.A. Kings, where he played until his retirement following the 2023-24 season.  He finished with 297 goals, 447 assists and 744 points in a 15-year NHL career.

Now, what does all of this visionary gazing mean?  Absolutely nothing.  That entire career retrospective is a moderately altered version of former Maple Leafs 7th overall pick Russ Courtnall’s Wikipedia entry.  Kinda makes you think, maybe… just a little? Either way, the Maple Leafs don’t want another Russ Courtnall.  Take care of your kids.