The unlikely story of Nazem Kadri’s 2021-22 season was a thrill to spectate. He gained a scoring touch he had never had before, producing 26 more regular-season points this year than his previous career-high in 2016.
With point production comes negotiation, Kadri is prime to receive his fattest contract yet. A well-deserved raise for Naz has GMs looking for cap space for the exciting top-6 forward. Who should give him the check?
You Could Always Stay Home
The Kroenke’s would very much like to retain Kadri and it seems clear that it’s Nazem’s preferred landing spot. Kadri had his best season in a Colorado sweater undergoing a career renaissance with the Aves.
Kadri posted 28 Goals and 59 Assists, 35 of those being primary assists, per MoneyPuck. Naz has some of his best memories and moments in Denver, it’s easy to see why he would like to stay. But the Aves have some salary issues to clean up this offseason, looking to extend Nathan Mackinnon and re-sign Nichushkin.
If the money that Kadri commands is not available to put on the table, he could get a ridiculous sum on the free agency market. At age 32 on opening night next season, there could be some hesitancy to give Nazem a long-term deal. Even though age has not always been a deterrent for some teams in the past.
If Not The Aves, Then Who?
We can stay in the Northwest for the first potential Kadri suitor, the Seattle Kraken. After having an expansion team-like season, Seattle is looking for top forward talent. They may also be in the mix for Johnny Gaudreau. They are desperate for some scoring help, their top point-getter last season filled the sheet with just 50 points in 74 games.
Seattle has a lot of cap space to make a Kadri signing work and if he can produce at the same rate he did in Denver, he can be their poster boy. However, unless Seattle commands the offseason it’s hard to expect them to be a cup contender, Kadri or no Kadri. The question will be if Kadri will be okay with taking a step down in terms of the supporting cast.
A team that made the postseason last season would be a nearly seamless fit on the books and on the ice. The Washington Capitals could have just over $9 million in cap space freed if Nicklas Backstrom is unable to come back. The Backstrom injury is a sad story for a franchise legend, but if he is unable to play again that means LTIR money frees up. Kadri could do wonders for the Capitals who are looking to accrue pieces around Ovechkin for a few last runs before he has to retire.
This last one requires a domino to fall in order for Kadri to land here, but it’s worth mentioning. If Johnny Gaudreau leaves the Flames, then Kadri could be their next elite forward. Of course, the Flames can offer a great contract to Gaudreau, but if the two parties can’t reach a deal, enter Kadri.
It’s hard to understate how great Colorado has been to Nazem Kadri, but if the money for compensation isn’t there, he’ll have to roam elsewhere. The Kraken, Capitals, and Flames would be the best suitors for a deal.