(Editor's note: This is one in a series of features about prospects who might possibly be available when the Ottawa Senators make the No. 9 selection of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, set for June 26-27 in Montreal. Choices are based on rankings by several services, including NHL Central Scouting).
|London Knights forward Nazem Kadri will bring a mix of size and skill to the lineup of the team which selects him at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal (Claus Anderson/Getty Images).
Nazem Kadri doesn’t shy away from the comparisons.
Fact is, the 18-year-old native of London, Ont., admits to spending plenty of time analyzing the game of a certain Tampa Bay Lightning superstar.
“Vincent Lecavalier is a good player for me (to watch),” said Kadri, a top prospect for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. “I just love the way he plays. He does everything – scores, hits, he’s a leader out there.
“He’s a complete player. I do my best to model my play after him.”
E.J. McGuire, the National Hockey League’s director of Central Scouting, seconds that notion.
“(Kadri) is big, lanky and skilled,” he said of the 6-0, 175-pound centre. “He uses his size to accentuate his puck skills. He’s got size, reach, stickhandling ability, those long kinds of stick movements that Mario (Lemieux) used to make, like Lecavalier makes.”
While Central Scouting rated Kadri 15th among North American skaters in its final season rankings, two other outfits – International Scouting Services and The Hockey News
– have him eighth overall. That would put him right in the range of the Ottawa Senators, who own the ninth pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, set for June 26-27 in Montreal.
There is also a bit of a Senators influence in his past, though Kadri – or anyone in hockey, for that matter – didn’t know it at the time.
“I have a very clear memory of (Senators centre) Jason Spezza
coming through the Ice House (to face the London Knights),” Kadri said of watching his hometown team – the same one he now plays for – as a youngster. “He was probably the best junior player I’ve ever seen. I actually remember going, sitting in the stands with my dad and watching him.”
Kadri had hoped to spend a week in Ottawa with Team Canada at the IIHF 2009 World Junior Hockey Championship. But a broken jaw prevented Kadri, a standout during Hockey Canada’s summer evaluation camp, from taking a shot at making that team.
However, he rebounded to post a 78-point season with the Knights, second on the team only to John Tavares, widely considered the No. 1 prospect for the 2009 draft. Kadri added another 21 points in 14 playoff games.
“Every hockey player has some adversity, whether it’s injuries or family issues,” Kadri said about dealing with the injury. “It’s just important that you fight through it. Breaking my jaw was a minor setback… especially for the world juniors, it happened at a little bit of a bad time.
“But you fight through it, keep your head up and never give up.”
Whoever picks Kadri will be getting a forward with high-end offensive talent and good skating speed to match.
"Vincent Lecavalier is a good player for me (to watch). I just love the way he plays. He does everything – scores, hits, he’s a leader out there. He’s a complete player. I do my best to model my play after him." - Nazem Kadri
“He’s got unbelievable skill. He’s got some of the best hands in the Ontario Hockey League, if not the CHL,” Guelph Storm forward Peter Holland told NHL.com. “He’s always a threat to score. He’s a man you have to look out for whenever you’re on (the ice) against him.”
For his part, Kadri admits “I like to have the puck. I think two of my strengths are playmaking and stickhandling. When the puck is on my stick, I like to do something with it and I think I see the ice pretty well, so that’s definitely a bonus.”
So, too, is the opportunity to play for his hometown team. He was dealt to the Knights last summer after helping the Kitchener Rangers reach the Memorial Cup final in 2008.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I’m living at home. I get the home-cooked meals from my mom (and) I know a bunch of people from London. They come out and support me at every single game and I have a bunch of family sitting in the stands. It just makes things a whole lot easier.”