Nazem Kadri has been the injury that has had the biggest impact on the Avalanche so far this season. Once Kadri was injured, it became apparent the difference in skill level of Kadri to J.T. Compher.
While both players serve a purpose on this team, both are talented in very different ways. Compher is a skilled defensive forward that can play center or wing. For Compher, his skill set serves best in a third or fourth line situation. He’s a guy that is smart defensively, but can contribute now and then offensively.
When Kadri was injured, however, it pushed Compher into a position he held last season because no one was a better option. It was said the Avalanche did not have a real second line center a year ago.
Joe Sakic found his legitimate second line center in Kadri, who happened to be playing a third line role in Toronto. Sakic made a trade for Kadri and hasn’t looked back.
Last season with Toronto, Kadri had 44 points, 16 of which were goals. His two previous seasons with Toronto he had 55 and 61 points, both seasons 32 goals. Having back to back 30-plus goal seasons in the NHL is nothing to bat an eye at.
With Colorado, Kadri was back to a second line center position. Before his injury, he was on pace to have a 57 point season, with 30 of those being goals. Kadri was starting to get hot at the time of his injury. In his last 10 games, he had nine points, four of which were goals.
Kadri has been the Avalanche’s most-consistent and best face-off man, boasting a 56.76% at the face-off dot. That’s a better rate than the centers behind him, with Vladislav Kamenev (53.16%), Compher (47.97%), and Nathan MacKinnon (43.05%) all failing to hit that mark.
Jared Bednar was smart when he would use Kadri for face-offs as well knowing he is the best face-off man. Kadri found himself on the ice taking face-offs in place of MacKinnon often, as well as others.
Kadri also brings something to the Avalanche that they were missing in the game against Tampa Bay. He brings grit and aggressive play that is missed with him being injured. Kadri is known for standing up for his teammates and being willing to fight. He has a lot of “sandpaper” to his game.
The Avalanche found themselves being pushed around some and in a few scrums against the Lightning. Colorado players on the ice held their own, but there is a difference when Kadri is out there with them. It’s similar to Nikita Zadorov being on the ice.
While the Avalanche have had injuries to players that are star players, the depth at the wing positions is more so than at the center position. Nazem Kadri being injured has had a massive impact on the Avalanche. He is listed as out indefinitely with a lower body injury.
The hope is he’ll be back within four to six weeks. The Avalanche had better hope so, as he’s proven to be tough to replace.