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Winners and Losers of Nazem Kadri Signing with the Calgary Flames

Joe YerdonAugust 19, 2022

Eliot J. Schechter

Not everyone in the NHL goes to the cottage in August.

Some–like Nazem Kadri–spent their offseason sweating out where they would play next season and beyond. Kadri got to kick his feet up and relax Thursday after he signed a seven-year, $49 million contract with the Calgary Flames.

Kadri was supposed to wind up on Long Island, instead he’s headed for the Canadian Rockies. More importantly for the Flames, they found a way to complete a roster shakeup that was not planned for when they were eliminated from the playoffs by their bitter rival Edmonton Oilers at the end of May.

The salary cap-pushing Flames weren’t done there. They traded Sean Monahan and a conditional 2025 first-round pick (with some wild conditions) to the Montreal Canadiens for future considerations. Monahan, headed into the final year of his contract, has a $6 million cap hit which is plenty enough to help Calgary get under the upper limit.

Making the moves is one thing but making them work is something else entirely. That’s why we’re going to give snap judgments and decide who won and who lost out of all this.

Winner: Nazem Kadri

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A staggering choice for a winner, right?

Kadri went from being a playoff liability for whatever team he played for to a key performer for the Colorado Avalanche in winning the Stanley Cup. It also helps he is coming off an out-of-this-world career season in which he had 87 points (his previous career-high was 61 in 2016-2017). It was the perfect storm of a season for a solid player heading into free agency and he came away with the bag.

He locked up a long-term deal and a payout that will give him the highest cap hit on the Flames this season (Huberdeau's eight-year, $84 million extension begins next season). Kadri will be 32 when the season begins, which means this deal will take him until he's nearly 39 years old and at the likely end of his career. If Calgary can recreate some of the Avalanche’s high-octane offense, it’ll lean into Kadri’s strengths and allow him the chance to recreate the success he had last year.

Loser: Lou Lamoriello

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Kadri was supposed to be an Islander. The rumors and speculation all pointed in that direction, and it didn’t happen. After all, there was virtually no hints for nearly a month about what was going on with Kadri and when there’s radio silence, that generally points toward Isles GM Lou Lamoriello being involved.

Think back to last season when the only thing that pointed toward Zach Parise and Zdeno Chara signing with the Islanders was a lot of speculation. It wasn't until September that those signings were announced just ahead of training camp. The logic made sense that Kadri would be headed to Long Island because it followed a similar pattern.

Kadri is a big-name player available and would’ve addressed a need. He also would’ve made Isles fans a bit happier about the team which hasn’t announced a player move since they traded their 2022 first-round pick to Montreal for Alexander Romanov and a fourth rounder at the draft.

While it’s likely Lamoriello has made some moves and kept them quiet (they have a few RFAs to re-sign) silence is not golden and it's arguable the Islanders have not improved a roster that wildly underperformed last season.

Winner: Flames GM Brad Treliving right now

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At the rate we’ve handed out W’s to Treliving we might have to get a championship belt made for him.

He had the unenviable position of watching MVP forward Johnny Gaudreau decide he wanted to go back East to be nearer to family and sign long-term with Columbus. That move set in motion Matthew Tkachuk wanting to leave town, which he turned into a blockbuster deal sending Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers for Jonathan Huberdeau and Mackenzie Weegar. Swapping out Sean Monahan, who has been a disappointing player the past few seasons, for Kadri can only be seen as an upgrade at that position.

It would've been very easy for Treliving to strip it all down after Gaudreau left and Tkachuk wanted out, but it’s taken Calgary so long to get back to a position where they’re contenders in the Western Conference that giving up on that hope now would’ve been defeating for everyone involved. Where there’s a window of opportunity, closing it yourself means not being a GM for much longer. Taking a shot at winning it all earns a lot of credit.

Loser: Brad Treliving in four years

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It’s not all rainbows and puppies for Calgary because there may be stormy times down the road.

The moves they’ve made this summer are vital to helping them get a shot at a Stanley Cup within the next two to three years. Further down the road is when things may get dicey.

In four years, their key players right now will be deeper into their 30s and under contract for big hits against the cap. Kadri ($7 million) will be 35, Huberdeau ($10.5 million) will be 33, Blake Coleman ($4.9 million) will be 34, Jacob Markstrom ($6 million) will be 36 and in the final year of his contract. The next contracts for a handful of players (including Andrew Mangiapane, Tyler Toffoli, Dillon Dube, Juuso Välimäki)–if they retain them–could (would?) come at a higher cost.

In general, GMs must keep their eyes further ahead in time to make sure their team can stay stocked with talent long-term. But the lure of the Cup is strong, and when they feel they’re close enough to taste it, the idea of having a host of players on the back-nine of their career becomes a “we’ll deal with it when we get there” situation. If Treliving is there to handle it, he’ll at least know what the plan is.

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