Nazem Kadri's 2021-22 campaign was the most successful of his 13-year NHL career. He tallied 87 points (26 more than his previous best) in 71 regular-season games, then helped the Colorado Avalanche win their first Stanley Cup in 21 years.
After three seasons with the Avs, Kadri became an unrestricted free agent this summer as one of the top offensive players on the market. His stock was also quite high, considering how well he fared during the past season.
Yet, as a flurry of players signed with teams when free agency began on Wednesday, Kadri didn't ink a deal. It's now Sunday and he still hasn't.
It doesn't appear to be from a lack of interest. According to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, there are likely multiple teams in pursuit of Kadri. But there's a reason why none of them have signed the 31-year-old center.
"I think what Kadri's doing, I've heard, is he is waiting, because I think there's some teams who want to sign him and they need to clear room," Friedman said on the most recent episode of his 32 Thoughts podcast. "I think Colorado's still a possibility and I think the Islanders would be someone else. But I wouldn't assume those are the only two. ...
"I think some teams have said, 'This is our offer, but we need to do something first.' So I think he's waiting a little bit."
Kadri shouldn't be in a rush. It can be the right move to wait for the right deal with a team that's a strong fit. It likely wouldn't be wise for him to settle and just sign any contract with just any team. That's especially the case given his situation, considering there are teams that want to sign him.
A return to the Avalanche could be a great fit for Kadri, as they again should be a Stanley Cup contender during the 2022-23 season. But they have only a projected $3.91 million in available cap space (per CapFriendly), which is something they'd need to fix if they hope to bring Kadri back.
Shawn Simpson of TSN 1200 heard that Kadri could return to Colorado if the team decided to move defenseman Samuel Girard, who is set to make $5 million in each of the next five seasons.
The Islanders have a bit more financial flexibility at the moment, as CapFriendly projects them to have a projected $11.185 million of available cap space. But they have several players who are restricted free agents and will need to be signed. After that, there may not be much available space so like the Avs, they'd have to clear room for a possible Kadri deal.
It's unknown which other teams could potentially be pursuing Kadri. The Athletic's Peter Baugh listed the Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators and Seattle Kraken among possible fits; whether any of those teams have had discussions with Kadri's camp isn't currently clear.
However, it's quite possible that Colorado is the team working the hardest to try to sign Kadri, according to a report by Adrian Dater of Colorado Hockey Now.
"My sources continue to say the Avalanche is the only real team trying to clear cap room to make this thing happen," Dater wrote.
That could change, or perhaps other teams aren't making it as known that they're trying to create a spot for Kadri. Either way, he should continue to be patient and wait out this market, as it's clear that things keep developing on this front.
At some point, Kadri is going to sign a sizable deal, and it will likely be with a team he fits well on and can have success with. In the meantime, the veteran is making the right move in watching other free agents sign until then.