Hyman praises ex-Leafs teammate Kadri prior to Oilers-Avalanche series

May 31 2022, 6:06 pm

Zach Hyman and Nazem Kadri both seemed like the type of players who could’ve spent their whole career with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both grew up in Ontario, were well-liked among the fanbase, and seemed to be solid complementary pieces to a star-studded roster.

But Kadri left town in a high-profile trade in 2019, while Hyman chose the free agency route last summer. If either career has a storybook ending, it likely won’t be in Toronto.

Today, they’re set to face off as rivals as Hyman’s Edmonton Oilers and Kadri’s Colorado Avalanche are matched up against each other in the Western Conference Finals.

“Lots of memories,” Hyman reflected of his friendship with Kadri before Game 1 of the series. “We played together for a while.”

Kadri suited up in 240 games with Hyman in his career, spread across three seasons.

During Hyman’s first year with the Leafs in 2016-17, he credited Kadri with looking after younger players like himself, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and Connor Brown, who all were in their rookie seasons together.

“We had a really young team, and he was a guy who, you know, took care of the young guys and made sure we’re comfortable. So just a great person, good friends with him,” Hyman said.

Hyman’s departure was by choice, signing a seven-year deal with the Oilers last summer. A shorter-term contract might’ve worked with the Leafs (or a long-term one for less money), but it’s hard to fault his decision, as he’s been a crucial part of the Oilers’ top-six, scoring eight goals, so far through two playoff rounds.

As you probably recall, Kadri’s departure wasn’t exactly under the same circumstances. Kadri was sent to Colorado in exchange for Tyson Barrie and Alex Kerfoot after being suspended in consecutive playoff runs with the Leafs. Oddly, Barrie now serves as Hyman’s teammate, along with former Leaf Cody Ceci.

Though he picked up a third suspension during last year’s playoff run in Colorado, he’s been lights out this postseason, putting up five goals and five assists in 10 games so far.

“I think he brings a lot to the table just he plays with emotion. He plays with a ton of emotion and passion, which is something that you always want in a teammate and a player, and he just brings it every night,” Hyman said of Kadri’s game. “He plays a 200-foot game, both ends of the ice, and it’s hard to play against. So just a really good player.”

Game 1 of the series goes tonight at 6 pm MT/ 8 pm ET in Denver.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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