TORONTO – In Nathan MacKinnon’s eight-game absence, Avalanche second-row center Nazem Kadri suffered an offensive tear, producing 17 points to move up to fourth in NHL scoring.
Kadri has amassed points in 11 of his last 12 games and Colorado is 7-1 since losing his frontline cross to injury.
MacKinnon is expected to return to the lineup on Wednesday against the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena, and Colorado will be hoping to restore what they believe to be a dangerous 1-2 punch down the middle.
“He was fantastic, that simple,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said of Kadri. “Even more with Nate out of roster. I am in awe of what he does.
Kadri, now in his third season with the Avs, played his first nine seasons with the Maple Leafs, which made him the 7th overall pick in the 2009 draft. It will be Kadri’s first game in Toronto, where he has played 561 games.
Kadri, a pending unrestricted free agent, was not made available to the media following Monday’s practice. The Avs traveled to Toronto on Tuesday, choosing not to skate. Kadri is set to gain media attention following Wednesday morning’s practice in the frenetic hockey market.
“I’m sure he’s motivated to go back,” said Avs captain Gabe Landeskog. “He had been there for a long time. So to get back there, especially the way he plays – he’s really one of the hottest players in the league over the last few weeks, last month.
Colorado will play its second consecutive night streak in less than a week Thursday in Montreal, then finish the Canadian portion of the trip on Saturday in Ottawa. The Avs return to the United States for games Monday in Philadelphia and Wednesday against the New York Rangers.
“It’s going to be fun going out in the east and out of the division and out of the conference and seeing some of these teams that we haven’t seen in a long time, kind of bring it back to a bit before the pandemic – what the world used to be like when we could go east, ”Landeskog said. “New York, I haven’t been in years, and Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, it will be a good test against good teams. We’ve been at home quite a bit here last month so it will be a good test for us as a road team.