Under head coach Randy Carlyle, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri is finally delivering on his potential and playing at a high level.
Appearing on TSN Drive with Dave Naylor on TSN Radio 1050, Carlyle was asked about the similarities between Kadri and two other young talents Carlyle watched develop as head coach of the Anaheim Ducks, namely Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
"They were young players and they made young player mistakes. I don't know if I was that hard on them; I was just adamant that they had to play a certain way. That was our expectations and if you did it, we believed that you could play in the league a long time," Carlyle said, addressing his perceived hardline approach to young players.
"That's no different than what we're talking about with Kadri. We don't want Kadri to be a four or five-year pro, we want him to be a 10 or 15-year pro. And play the game with longevity, but play it the right way."
Kadri has been instrumental in the Leafs' strong play so far this season. After three years of only part-time action with Toronto, the 22-year-old now leads the team with 14 goals and 35 points in 34 games and is averaging nearly 16 minutes of ice time per game.
Carlyle likened Kadri's development to that of Joffrey Lupul, the Leafs veteran who spent the first two years of his career in Anaheim, including one under Carlyle, and has now put it all together in Toronto.
"I think with Lupul as a young player would have fit close to Nazem Kadri. They were alike – young, free spirits, and high draft choices. Lupul had lots of flair on the ice but did things in some of the wrong areas early. He would be a turnover guy; high risk, high reward player in certain areas."
"The one thing with Lupul was he could always score. To watch him now, the way he approaches practice, his preparation, the commitment that he's made to becoming a high-level player is paramount to where he was as a young player. That's maturity."
Lupul has been solid since returning from a broken forearm, recording seven points in four games. In 66 games with Toronto last season, the 29-year-old had 25 goals and 67 points.