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Get to Know a Maple Leaf: Nazem Kadri

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As part of the build-up to the first-round playoff series between the Capitals and the Maple Leafs, Japers' Rink will be looking at some of the important Leafs players and how they might impact the series.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Nazem Kadri

#43 / Center / Toronto Maple Leafs

Height: 6’0” | Weight: 195 | Born: October 6, 1990

Birthplace: London, ON, Canada | Drafted: 7th, 2009 (Toronto)

Assets: Has scoring instincts, soft hands and offensive flair to make spectacular plays. His creativity is quite good. Is also an agitator who is not afraid to initiate contact. Can also play a shutdown role.

Flaws: Inconsistency is his biggest issue, and it can prevent him from becoming a superstar at the National Hockey League level. Also, he can go a little too far at times when he riles up opponents.

Career Potential: Skilled, creative center and agitator.

(Via The Hockey News)

Career 20-Game Rolling Five-on-Five CF% (via Corsica):

2016-17 Usage Chart (via Corsica):

Why You Should Know Who He Is: Kadri often gets forgotten on a roster with more firebrand youngsters than a Radio Disney concert, especially with rookie paradigm-recombobulators Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander (deservedly) garnering most of the attention. But lest ye forget, Kadri trailed only Matthews in goals (32) and Matthews and James van Riemsdyk in points (61). The dude can flat-out score, and he’ll be on the ice a lot; only Matthews and Marner see more even strength ice time/60 among forwards than Kadri.

Plus, Kadri is an agitator. He is second on the Maple Leafs in PIM (95), a total that would put him behind Tom Wilson but ahead of the rest of the Capitals’ roster by nearly double if he played for Washington.

Oh, and he just got a cat, which he’s pretty stoked about. That led to my favorite hockey story of the year, and this all-time great string of quotes from Auston Matthews and Jake Gardiner:

But apparently his Toronto teammates aren’t on the Jazzy bandwagon.

“I’m not gonna follow him … I’m not a fan of that cat, I don’t know why,” defenceman Jake Gardiner joked with reporters.

Star rookie Auston Matthews said he doesn’t follow Kadri’s cat on Instagram either.

“I might have to soon, just so I can keep up with what’s going on in her life. It’s very interesting,” he said. “He’s always talking about this cat non-stop.”

How the Caps Can Stop Him: Kadri can’t be allowed any time to set up in high-danger areas, nor to quarterback the rush on the way into the zone. He’s too smart, he’s too skilled, and he’s got too many options; Kadri, despite his visceral playing style, is deceptively cerebral in the way he sees the ice, and he will pick the Capitals’ defense apart like a sadist doing surgery if they let him. Stopping him will be a two-pronged effort by the Washington defense: sticking with him on the fly as he crosses the blue line (Orlov, Shattenkirk), and making his life a black-and-blue hell when he tries to squat on some high-priced real estate (Orpik, Alzner).