This regular season was truly one to remember for Colorado Avalanche center, Nazem Kadri. In a season that saw the Avs produce a healthy amount of all-stars, Nazem Kadri was a major standout. In 71 games, Kadri scored 28 goals and accrued 59 assists for an 87-point season, by far, the most productive season of his career. The Avalanche have one of the most potent offences in hockey this season and a big reason why is Kadri’s all-star year. Nazem Kadri’s legacy will be defined by how he performs in these playoffs.
What the Playoffs Mean for Nazem Kadri
Nazem Kadri Reputation
But now, it’s playoff time and it’s a whole new ballgame. Poor playoff performance can erase any good memories built up during the regular season. Reputations are built in the regular season, but legacies are defined in the playoffs. Something that Nazem Kadri knows all too well. During his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kadri became a fan favourite over the years. He was a consistent producer and provided leadership. But he was also known for his bone-crushing hits and highlight checks. That worked wonders in the regular season, but it was a liability come playoff time. In the 2018 and 2019 playoffs, the Leafs took on their hated rivals, the Boston Bruins.
Both were tightly contested series that showed both teams at their best. But the Bruins would win both series against the Leafs. In both years, the highlight was Nazem Kadri laying a big hit on the ice that would land him a suspension for the remainder of the series. Many fans and members of the media pointed to the absence of Kadri as a big reason for the Leafs’ losses. Without him, the Leafs’ offence and special teams took a major hit. Add on the occasional regular-season suspensions he would take, and his reputation had soured among the Leafs brass after the 2019 playoffs.
Fresh Start in Colorado
During the 2019 offseason, the Leafs would trade Nazem Kadri to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for defenseman Tyson Barrie and forward Alexander Kerfoot. Kadri fit in right away with the Colorado system. Playing second-line center, Nazem Kadri was just as productive as he’d been in Toronto. During the 2020 bubble playoffs, Kadri was one of the best forwards on the Avalanche. He seemed to have cleaned up his act, avoiding any suspension. The 2021 season was also a good one for Kadri, as the Avalanche won the President’s Trophy.
But his reputation reared its ugly head again. He made a huge hit during the first-round series against the St. Louis Blues. He would be forced to serve an eight-game suspension by the NHL. He would miss all of the second-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights, who knocked Colorado out of the playoffs. Eyes once again looked to Kadri, whose presence was sorely missed on the power play. In the last year of his contract with the Avs, Kadri has given them everything they could ask for and then some.
Nazem Kadri Looks to Change his legacy
Now it’s playoff time once again. Kadri’s reputation is well known amongst NHL officials and the league office. He will have a target painted on his back. One slip up and he may be suspended once again. Fair or not, this is something that he will have to contend with. The Avalanche have been a juggernaut all year, running away with the Western Conference, and Nazem Kadri has been a major part of that. Colorado has their eyes on the Cup, and they’re getting reinforcements just in time. But Nazem Kadri will be crucial to any sort of deep run that Colorado desires.
He may have kept himself in check since suiting up for the Avalanche, but these playoffs are crucial to his legacy. If he avoids suspension and helps Colorado win a Stanley Cup, then he’ll have salvaged his reputation. If he’s suspended, and it costs Colorado, it’ll solidify his reputation as a postseason liability. The theme for the Avalanche this year has been, ‘Find A Way’. For Nazem Kadri, it’s best that he take those words to heart.