Nasty Naz at the heart of Maple Leafs resurgence

Can I say just say how good Nazem Kadri’s been this season? He’s done everything for the Leafs this year and I love the evolution of his game. I call him “Nasty Naz” because he’s become one of the toughest players to play against in the NHL.

Kadri does yeoman’s work– he’s physical, he grinds, he gets under his opponents’ skin, and he’s annoying as hell, causing other players to lose their discipline. He plays right on the edge and I dig it — his hits on Sedin and Chiarot were beauties to behold. He’s one of the feistiest competitors I’ve seen in a long time.

Of course, I haven’t even mentioned the 30 goals he’s potted this year, his slick mitts, his high-octane offensive abilities, and electrifying presence on the power play. He’s become one of the Maple Leafs most trusted, shutdown guys. He’s put the off-ice stuff behind him, found great chemistry with Leo Komarov, and become a well-rounded, consummate professional who eats up big minutes in key times.

When the Leafs signed him to a one-year deal at the end of the 2015 season that basically communicated “prove yourself or you’re out,” he did that. It took him a while to develop, and there were undoubtedly some rocky times, but I couldn’t be happier that Kadri’s locked up until 2022 (and a steal at only 4-and-a-half mil per year.) He should be a Leafs linchpin for a long time.

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