Colorado Avalanche breakout star Nazem Kadri hit the open market on Wednesday. Many expected that he would make a decision some time then. However, news broke that he would wait until the next day to trim some of his options down.
And yet, we inch closer to Tuesday morning on the east coast, and Kadri remains on the market. While not the only big name unsigned, the 31-year-old is the biggest name left on the market.
Kadri, formerly a first-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, had his best season this year. The 31-year-old posted 87 points as Colorado’s second-line center. And he added another 15 points in 16 playoff games as the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup.
Some teams filled their need for a second-line center, like the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers. However, there are still a few teams who could use some help in that department.
Let’s look at three teams that would be the best fit for Kadri and what they provide the 31-year-old veteran.
Nazem Kadri: 3 best landing spots after first week of NHL free agency
1) Colorado Avalanche
Let’s get the obvious team out of the way. The Avalanche are undeniably the best fit for Kadri. This past season refutes any argument to the contrary.
Kadri was better than he ever has been this past season. The team and player won a Stanley Cup together. And Kadri was a huge part of that success.
A reunion between the two has its hurdles. Kadri will command a hefty salary on any contract he signs. And Colorado doesn’t exactly have a ton of cap space.
If the former seventh overall pick is to return to the team, the Avs will need to clear cap room. Moves involving forward J. T. Compher and defenseman Samuel Girard have been discussed.
Even then, Colorado has a decision to make. Any Kadri contract will impact their cap for next offseason when they have to re-sign Nathan MacKinnon. Furthermore, Bowen Byram, Alex Newhook, and Ben Meyers hit restricted free agency.
Is bringing Kadri back worth the cap battle they’ll face next offseason? Or is Kadri too important to the team to let walk? New general manager Chris MacFarland has a tough decision to make.
How about a team that could use some positive news? The Flames are reeling after superstar Johnny Gaudreau left nearly $16 million total to leave for the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday.
The team has a competitive roster. They won 50 games during the regular season and made it to the second round of the playoffs. Calgary lost a high-octane Battle of Alberta to the Edmonton Oilers, but they showed that they can compete.
The Flames also boast the cap space required to make a Kadri move happen. The team elected to go to salary arbitration with star Matthew Tkachuk, so they aren’t going to pay him full market value this offseason.
They have previously attempted to acquire the 31-year-old. The Maple Leafs traded Kadri to the Flames in 2019. However, the veteran center vetoed the trade, as the team was on his 10-team no-trade list.
Kadri is someone who can drive the play on the offensive end. And his gritty, hard-nosed style meshes well with old-school head coach Darryl Sutter. The question remains if Kadri has already turned the Flames down once, would he do it again?
The Flames’ current roster may convince the 31-year-old that the time is right to call Calgary home.
The Islanders undeniably had one of the most disappointing seasons of any team last year. They missed out on the playoffs despite reaching the final four the previous two years.
The team thought they had a good chance of landing Gaudreau. That didn’t happen, so it’s back to square one for Lou Lamoriello. The Islanders’ general manager has said he wants to upgrade the team’s forward core.
Someone will have to play the wing if a deal got done. Kadri can play the wing, though he is a natural center. First, the Islanders will have to create cap space. Their remaining RFAs will eat a good chunk of their cap space up.
Kadri is a good fit for an Islanders team that needs to rebound from last year’s disappointment. The team can use his Stanley Cup experience, and his offensive ability, to turn their fortunes around.
Kadri is the closest thing to a superstar New York can add. And if they went 0-for-2 in that department this offseason, it may be another tough year on the ice in Long Island.