Gary Roberts helps get Kadri ready for key season

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Nazem Kadri has been regarded as one of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ top prospects since he was taken with the seventh overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, but in the three seasons that have followed, he’s appeared in just 51 NHL games. However, after a strong 2011-12 campaign, Kadri has been working hard this summer to get ready to earn a spot on the Maple Leafs’ opening game roster and — more importantly — stick with the squad for the entire season.

As Kyle Cicerella reported, Kadri spent nine weeks training with former All-Star forward Gary Roberts. Roberts has also helped some young, big name players like Jeff Skinner and Steven Stamkos.

“It was tough, pretty vigorous training,” said Kadri. “It was a hard summer for me. I went Monday to Saturday up at six in the morning every single day. I definitely put in the time this year.”

Although Kadri’s now fully recovered from the separated shoulder that he suffered during the 2012 AHL playoffs, it did cause him to put a greater emphasis on strengthening his lower body. Roberts also had him on a “strict nutritional plan,” which has resulted in Kadri weighing in at 183 pounds.

As Kadri put it, there’s not much fat on him at this point.

“Speed’s my game,” Kadri said. “When I try to pack on too many pounds it affects the way I skate. I’m not a guy that’s going to sit at 195 or 200 pounds. I focused on just getting stronger and I like the 182-185 point.”

The odds of Kadri making the Leafs out of training camp appear to be good, but he will still have to compete with some of the Leafs’ other youngsters like Matt Frattin to secure his spot.