Nazem Kadri was an "unbelievable" acquisition by the Colorado Avalanche, former teammate Tyler Bozak said Monday.
"He's obviously a guy who is built for the Central Division," the 33-year-old St. Louis Blues center told The Denver Post at the first day of the University of Denver's annual pro camp. "He plays hard. He plays tough. And he can put the puck in the net."
Bozak and Kadri each made his NHL debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2009-10 season. The centers were teammates until Bozak signed a three-year contract with the Blues on July 1, 2018. Kadri, who turns 29 on Oct. 6, was traded to the Avalanche by the Maple Leafs on July 1 in a deal that sent defenseman Tyson Barrie to Toronto.
"He's got great skills and he's got that nasty streak that a lot of guys don't like playing against," said Bozak, who had 38 points in 72 regular-season games and 13 points in 26 Stanley Cup Playoff games to help the Blues win the Cup for the first time. "Anybody can use a player like that: A guy who can throw his body around, score big goals and get into it with the other guys, get under guys' skin. A very good all-around player."
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Kadri scored an NHL career-high 32 goals in 2016-17 and 2017-18 before scoring 16 for the Maple Leafs as their third-line center last season. He was the second-line center, ahead of Bozak and behind Auston Matthews, before Toronto signed John Tavares on July 1, 2018.
It is expected Kadri will be the second-line center for the Avalanche behind Nathan MacKinnon.
Kadri was suspended for the remainder of the 2019 Eastern Conference First Round against the Boston Bruins by the NHL Department of Player Safety after cross-checking forward Jake DeBrusk in Game 2; Boston won the series on its way to the Cup Final. He was suspended Games 2-4 in the first round against the Bruins in the 2018 playoffs for boarding forward Tommy Wingels.
Kadri reportedly nixed a trade to the Calgary Flames in June.
"I just figured that had I declined, I would have had a better opportunity of being a Maple Leaf next year and that's really what it came down to," he told Sportsnet's 31 Thoughts: The Podcast on July 11. "I wanted to play for the Leafs next year. … [Toronto] had other plans. I'm just happy to be moving to a great city with a great team, a great group of guys. I've talked to everybody in the (Colorado) organization and they're ecstatic to have me so it's nice to be wanted. I mean, I understand it's a business. … For me, it's about going in to next season with a chip on my shoulder."
Among the NHL players participating at the Denver camp with Bozak, who played at the school from 2007-09, are defensemen Will Butcher (New Jersey Devils) and Brandon Carlo (Bruins), and forwards Nick Shore (Maple Leafs), Dylan Gambrell (San Jose Sharks) and Troy Terry (Anaheim Ducks). All but Carlo played at Denver.