Timing is everything.

Consider now the decision by Toronto Maple Leafs management to lock Nazem Kadri up on a six-year contract back in April 2016. He’s made that $4.5-million cap hit look like an absolute bargain while slotting behind Auston Matthews down the middle of the NHL’s second-highest scoring team.

Consider the timing, as well, of Mike Babcock’s arrival behind the Leafs bench and what it’s meant for Kadri. He fed the centre a steady diet of tough minutes and discovered that it didn’t negatively impact his production.

“He’s figured it out, obviously,” Babcock said before Wednesday’s game against the Florida Panthers. “Sometimes what happens is you arrive in a place and you get credit for a guy that’s suddenly playing better. But really what happened is he came of age, and matured, and made up his own mind.

“One thing about it is until they decide, it ain’t happening.”

The 27-year-old has played a big role in a 14-8-0 start to the season.

He helped the Leafs weather a recent four-game stretch without Matthews and enters Wednesday night with points in seven straight – matching a career best – while continuing to tilt the ice against top competition.