Kadri makes debut at Leafs prospects camp

Rob Longley, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:40 PM ET

It was quite a day for London, Ont., native Nazem Kadri.

For starters, the Maple Leafs first-round draft pick made his on-ice debut in blue and white, sporting No. 19 for the first day of the team’s annual prospects camp at Lakeshore Lions Arena.

His skates were barely off and it was soon confirmed that the 18-year-old had signed a three-year entry level contract with the team.

“It feels great, this has been my dream,” Kadri said. “It’s been almost overwhelming.”

While many expect Kadri will return to London for his final year of junior eligibility, the No. 7 overall pick vows to do everything he can to impress the coaching staff and make a bid to be in the lineup come October.

“I think if I work hard this summer, I’ve got a good shot,” Kadri said. “Obviously I’m going to do everything I can to make this next jump. It’s what I want and what I’ve been working for.

“The summer’s going to be big, but there’s no doubt in my mind I can make the next step.”

Leafs general manager Brian Burke admits that even if there is a tendency is to pencil Kadri in for a return to junior, he’s going to give the kid a chance to prove him wrong. While Burke appreciates Kadri’s touch, he also likes the fact that he’s “a mean little bastard” who could develop into a gritty player.

“It’s all up to Nazem,” Burke said. “We’re looking for him to force us into a decision.”

It was a busy day otherwise for Burke who signed five forwards to contracts. Ben Ondrus and Ryan Hamilton were re-signed to one-year deals while free agents Jay Rosehill (two years), Tim Brent (one year) and Richard Greenop (three-year entry-level contract) also agreed to terms.

The team is still awaiting the decision of Swedish free agent goaltender, Jonas Gustavsson, potentially as soon as today. And Burke acknowledged that he has made an offer to Gusavsson’s teammate with Farjestad of the Swedish Elite League, centre Rickard Wallin.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca


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