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At 600 Games, Kadri Continues Maturing as a Player and Person

Avalanche forward reflects on his 2019 year and reaching mileston

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

NEWARK, N.J.--As with anyone, Nazem Kadri's 2019 had its high and lows through the 365 days.

Along the way he joined a new team in the Colorado Avalanche, became a father as his wife Ashley and he welcomed the birth of their daughter Naylah into the world, and moved halfway across the continent to Denver.

He's quickly adapted to the Avalanche and Western U.S. culture since being acquired on July 1, as he's been a staple in the club's lineup as its second-line center and has provided the grit and skill that he's been known for in the league.

"I think every single year you grow and find out more about yourself then you knew the previous year," Kadri said when reflecting on his 2019. "That is really what it is all about, trying to mature and try and become a better player, better man, better teammate, better father, better sibling. I've enjoyed it and excited to hop into a new year."

Four days into 2020, Kadri is looking to continue what he and his Avs teammates have started through the first three months of the campaign. After 41 of 82 games in the 2019-20 season, the Avs sport a 24-13-4 record and their 52 points obtained are among the best in the NHL.

Coming off a 7-3 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues at Pepsi Center on Thursday, Colorado begins a three-game road trip on Saturday at the New Jersey Devils.

The Avalanche got contributions throughout its lineup in the victory versus the division-rival Blues, which was important given that head coach Jared Bednar did a major shakeup of his lines in the outing after the team dropped three straight contests.

Video: Avs' Nazem Kadri before 600th game at New Jersey

Kadri centered a unit with Valeri Nichushkin and Matt Calvert and ended up scoring twice against St. Louis for his third multi-goal performance of the year and his second multi-point outing in as many games (goal and assist on Tuesday versus Winnipeg).

"I don't think it was approached as so much of a wakeup call than just a spark, something we needed to turn things in the right direction," Kadri said of the lines changing. "I think everyone can play with everyone on this team, and that's the great thing about it. We were able to find some chemistry. How long is it going to stay for, I'm not sure but might as well enjoy it while we have it."

A two-time 30-goal scorer while a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kadri is halfway to that mark at the midpoint of the season. His 15 goals on the year rank second on the Avalanche, while his 27 points (15 goals, 12 assists) are fifth-most on the squad.

The London, Ontario, native also leads Colorado in faceoff-win percentage (56.4) and ranks first in penalty minutes (60) and third in hits (55) while averaging 17:52 of ice time per game.

"He's kind of brought what we were hoping he would bring and what we expected him to bring, which is compete night in and night out, bringing that skill up front that we need," said team captain Gabriel Landeskog. "He's kind of a gamebreaker-type player, and he's got a lot of skill. He works hard, he's got some grit to his game, got some sandpaper to his game, and we like that."

Saturday in New Jersey served as a time for reflection for Kadri, and not just because he was preparing for the second game since the calendar turned to 2020. He was also getting ready to suit up in his the 600th game of his NHL career.

"It goes by quick. I think that is the cliché that everybody tells you when you first come into the league Enjoy it, don't blink, that sort of thing," Kadri said of the milestone. "I always didn't believe in that, but here I am today and it seems like it's gone pretty fast. I feel like I have lots left and it's been an enjoyable time."

Since making his league debut with the Maple Leafs on Feb. 8, 2010 versus the San Jose Sharks, Kadri has recorded 176 goals, 208 assists, 447 penalty minutes and 1,500 shots on goal.

The first 10-plus years have flown by for the former No. 7 overall pick of the 2009 NHL Draft, and the expectation is that his best years for him and the team are still ahead.

"As soon as I got the call over the summer that we got him, [he's] a quality player. We're excited to have him, Landeskog said. "To play 600 games, that's a lot of NHL games. I'm sure he's got a lot more coming."

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