It took time in the minors for Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri to develop his game at the professional level.
It’s paying off. Kadri recorded his first career hat trick Thursday night, as the Leafs defeated the New York Islanders 5-4 in overtime. Dion Phaneuf scored the overtime winner, but not before Kadri, 22, snapped a five-game drought without a goal.
Kadri was a seventh overall pick of the Leafs in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, but hasn’t played a full season in the league. He hadn’t even reached a point-per-game average in the American Hockey League, which led to an abundance of criticism.
“It was tough on me for a little bit,” Kadri told the Globe and Mail earlier this week. “I really don’t think a lot of other people could have been under the scrutiny and under the pressure and have that mental toughness to prevail.”
He’s now hovering just below a point-per-game pace in the NHL, with 21 points in 22 games.
He has seven points in his last four games.