TORONTO– Nazem Kadri has had his fair share of criticism while a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ organization.
He’s been told to improve his defence, that he’s too sure of himself and at one point that he was overweight and out of shape.
He hasn’t lived up to the expectation put upon him when he was drafted seventh overall in 2009, but much of that he believes can be put in the past if he’s able to stick with the Leafs this season out of training camp.
“I think (making the Leafs) basically is what will get all the criticism to slow down,” said Kadri. “That’s just how it is. I’ve done a lot of what I had to do and I’ve tried my best. People want to criticize and scrutinize, it just adds fuel to the fire. I take it as constructive and to be honest I want to throw it in their faces.”
While nothing is guaranteed for the 22-year-old, Kadri has a vision of where he fits best into the Leafs’ lineup.
The shifty forward, who has spent three seasons moving up and down with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate, Toronto Marlies, thinks he can offer more to the big club than just filling the bottom two lines as he’s done with most of his call-ups in the past.
“I feel I’m a top-six forward in the NHL, one day” said Kadri. “I can slot into other positions and bring a lot to them as well, but I don’t shy away from anything. I have no problem grinding it out and getting my nose dirty so wherever I do fit in I’ll be more than happy, but I do see myself in the future as a top-six.”
With criticism comes rumours and Kadri’s name has come up on more than one occasion as being a guy who could be traded out of Toronto for the right price. But the prospect says he’s got the mentality to not let that bother him as he pushes for a full-time spot with the Leafs.
“I completely let it go,” said Kadri about any trade talk. “With my type of personality, that’s really not that hard for me to do. My dad always taught me you had to be strong mentally before you were strong physically.”
Before training camp began on Sunday, Kadri had been playing at a point-per-game pace with the Marlies through 27 outings. And on Wednesday, he put forth his best performance so far at camp as he scored three goals in an inter-squad game.
Leafs’ coach Randy Carlyle is expected to have his roster trimmed to 23 men by Friday at 3pm, and then Kadri will know if he’s toned down the critics or added more fuel to their fire.
“There’s been a lot of scrutiny and criticism, but at the end of the day I know what I’m capable of and I know what I can do and to be honest that self-confidence gets you through it.”