Saturday's game between the Colorado Avalanche and Toronto Maple Leafs was one that Avs forward Nazem Kadri has had circled on his calendar for awhile.
Kadri had spent his entire career with the Maple Leafs before Colorado acquired the center from Toronto in a six-piece trade on July 1. The Leafs selected the London, Ontario, native in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft, and he spent 10 years with the organization.
He recorded 357 points (161 goals, 196 assists) in 561 regular-season outings with the Leafs and had 32 tallies in both 2016-17 and 2017-18 to rank seventh among all NHL centers during that time frame (64).
"I came in as an 18-year-old kid, left at 28. You know, those are pretty significant years in your life under the microscope," said Kadri. "I am very appreciative of everything the city has given me and just that opportunity."
Video: Nazem Kadri faces the Maple Leafs for the first time
Although leaving the organization that he spent a decade with was difficult, the opportunity he has had to succeed in Colorado has aided in the transition.
"When it happened at first I was a little bit bitter towards it, but as time goes on, time heals all," said Kadri. "I got over that pretty quick… That being said, I think ending up in Denver was a blessing in disguise.
"Obviously being in the same place for so long, which I was fortunate to do, guys come into your team it's a little bit different, you know they got to get to know you. As the new guy, it's kind of the opposite. Just trying to get to know my teammates, the staff, just try to sit down, learn everybody's names, that sort of thing. So far it's been going great."
Video: COL@VAN: Kadri rips short-side wrister past Demko
He has played all 22 Avalanche games this year and has helped to team to a 13-7-2 record and 28 points, which is the second most in the Central Division.
So far this campaign, Kadri has registered 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 22 contests. He has won 55.6 percent of his faceoffs and has averaged 17:41 of ice time per game as a reliable second-line center for Colorado. He has also be on the team's first power-play unit, and is fourth on the team with five man-advantage points (two goals, three assists).
Video: COL@VGK: MacKinnon sets up Kadri for PPG
Saturday's contest will be the first time that he lines up against his old Maple Leafs teammates, but it won't be the last. Kadri and the Avs will make their lone visit to Toronto in 11 days on Dec. 4.
"Obviously going to be a bit of a weird one, but that is just a part of the game," Kadri said. "I have obviously been looking forward to it, and matching up against a few of my friends for the first time, so it should be interesting."