CALGARY — The Calgary Flames‘ wild off-season took another dramatic turn Thursday when the team signed coveted free agent forward Nazem Kadri to a seven-year, US$49-million deal.
The 32-year-old native of London, Ont., was one of the biggest names available in free agency after an all-star season with Colorado that ended with the Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup.
“This is an exciting day for my family,” Kadri said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to join such a passionate fan base and organization.
“I’ve always loved the city of Calgary and I look forward to giving everything I have to this team. Winning a Stanley Cup is a true honour and it only makes you want it more. I would love nothing more but to see another banner in Calgary.”
The Flames also sent forward Sean Monahan and a conditional 2025 first-round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for future considerations in a move to create salary cap space for Kadri’s contract.
Kadri had 87 points (28 goals, 59 assists) in 71 games for the Avalanche in 2021-22.
He added 15 points in 16 playoff games, including the overtime winner in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final against Tampa Bay.
That was his return to action after being injured in Game 3 of the Western Conference final after being hit from behind by Edmonton forward Evander Kane
Kadri was selected seventh overall by Toronto in the 2003 NHL draft and has 512 points (219 goals, 293 assists) in 739 career games with the Maple Leafs and Colorado.
“Nazem is a highly competitive top-six player who makes our centre-ice position deep,” Flames general manager Brad Treliving said in a statement. “He brings a high skill level and determination to our group combined with his recent experience of a Stanley Cup championship.”
Confirmation of the signing, which came on Treliving’s birthday, was the latest bombshell in a roller-coaster Calgary off-season that started with the loss of star forward Johnny Gaudreau.
The Flames’ leading scorer last season (115 points), and a finalist for the Hart Trophy as league MVP, Gaudreau informed the Flames before the start of the free agency period that we would not be re-signing with the Flames in a desire to move closer to home.
The New Jersey native signed a seven-year, $68.25-million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets on July 13.
Calgary was then informed that forward Matthew Tkachuk, who had a breakout season with 42 goals and 104 points, would not sign a contract extension after the upcoming season.
What looked like a potential nightmare for Calgary started to turn around when the Flames dealt Tkachuk to Florida for a package that included forward Jonathan Huberdeau, who had 115 points last season, and defenceman Mackenzie Weegar.
The Flames then locked up Huberdeau long term with an eight-year, $84-million contract extension.
This is not the first time the Flames have tried to add Kadri to their roster. The Flames attempted to acquire him from Toronto in 2019, but Kadri used the no-trade clause in his contract to veto the deal. Kadri was then traded to the Avalanche on July 1, 2019.
Monahan, selected sixth overall by the Flames in the 2013 draft, has played nine seasons in Calgary. The three-time 30-goal scorer tallied just eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points in 65 games last season.
In 2019, Kadri used his no-trade clause to block a deal from the Maple Leafs to the Flames and he was later moved to the Avalanche instead. Speaking to Sportsnet’s Eric Francis after that decision, Kadri said his goal at the time had been to remain with the Maple Leafs.
“It was nothing against Calgary. I obviously love that city and love going there as a visiting team,” he said in 2019. “I just had aspirations of staying put (in Toronto). I came very close. It was a tough decision.”
August 18, 2022