It was this time last year when Avalanche GM Joe Sakic pulled the trigger on a trade sending defenseman Tyson Barrie to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a package deal in exchange for centerman Nazem Kadri. With hopes of adding more depth to the top six, the Avs got a reliable 2nd line center on a modest contract who would make the Avs hard to play against and more skilled up front. The trade came at a cost with Barrie leaving as a long time fan-favorite, but Cale Makar has made that transition a seamless one.
As the Avs are finally back to playing hockey and we’re back in the playoffs, we wanted to know if Colorado would get the good Kadri or the bad Kadri. With a reputation of being a wildcard with history of suspensions, Kadri could be one of the final pieces the Avs needed to get them to the Stanley Cup, or something that holds them back.
To get more insight on Kadri, we asked Cris Caruso from The-Rink Toronto a few questions about the former Leafs centerman.
What should Colorado fans expect from Kadri in the playoffs?
During his time in Toronto, when on his game, he played a physical game, staying on the right side of the line. However, as seen in the last two years’ playoffs, it was easy for him to slip up. As some Leaf fans called it, he saw “red mist”. That is what led to his suspensions.
Kadri has had history with questionable hits and penalties that have cost his team. Do you think he will have more trouble towing the line between being competitive and dirty, or do you think he’s matured from this?
If anything is going to get Kadri to grow up, it was this trade. He had previously been suspended by both his team and the league, yet he didn’t seem to mature. Honestly, trading him was the last option on the table. I obviously don’t have a definite answer, but in my opinion it is likely to have worked. It will definitely be interesting to see how it plays out.
Kadri has reached the 30 goal plateau a couple of times in his career. Do you see him more as a scoring or playmaking centerman?
Kadri is a lethal playmaking centre. He is excellent at closing down the opposition. In fact, Kadri had his most successful years in Toronto (in terms of points and play in general) when he was acting as a shutdown centre.
What is something that Kadri excels at in big games, and what is something he struggles with?
Kadri excels at, for lack of better terminology, being a pest. He will antagonize his opponents and get under their skin. What he struggles with, or has struggled with in the past, is staying on the right side of the line.
A year from the trade, how do the Leafs feel about the Kadri / Barrie trade now?
Barrie has become an important piece to the team. He has taken some of the weight off of Morgan Rielly’s back in terms of powerplay time and offense, and was extremely important with all the Leafs’ injuries early in the season. Kerfoot is a key part of the Leafs now. When he is going, he can get the team going. He has also been excellent at killing penalties, a real bad part of the Leafs’ season in 2018-19.
Who do you expect to go deeper in the playoffs this year, the Leafs or the Avs?
In my opinion, that depends on which version of the Toronto Maple Leafs shows up. One thing they’ve battled with all year is consistency. Another thing to watch is where Andersen is at. When he is at his best, he can steal games for the team, but he too has struggled with being consistent. However, basing my answer solely on how the season ended, I would say the Avs.