As one of the top players available in free agency this off-season, Nazem Kadri took longer than some expected to finally put pen to paper on a seven-year deal with the Calgary Flames.
For Kadri, it was all by design given how critical the decision was along with Calgary needing to trade Sean Monahan in order to free up the salary cap space necessary.
“It’s certainly an elaborate process. The patience definitely did me some good,” Kadri said on a media conference call Friday, one day after signing with the Flames. “Calgary was always a team that was interested from Day 1. It was definitely a tricky process, there was some decisions to be made. Obviously, I am a Canadian boy and I love the country of Canada and the city of Calgary but what was more important was the direction of the team.”
The 31-year-old’s addition was a part of a massive makeover in Calgary with the departures of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk and the additions of Johnathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar. Kadri was impressed with how the team found a way to remain competitive given everything that transpired.
“It’s alarming to anybody when you lose players of that magnitude,” Kadri said. “But I think Brad (Flames GM Brad Treliving) has done a great job getting some return and valuable players obviously Huberdeau and Weegar who were a part of a great team last year.”
In his final season with the Colorado Avalanche, Kadri enjoyed his best year of his career, putting up 87 points in 71 games. He was also a big catalyst in the Avalanche’s Stanley Cup run, notching 15 points in 16 games, including a game-winner after his return from thumb surgery midway through the playoffs.
Kadri believes the lessons he learned while in Colorado can help the Flames get over the hump.
“Having that poise and composure to be in those type of moments and just embrace it. Coming to Calgary, everyone kind of understands that there’s not one moment that’s gonna be too big for us.” Kadri said. “Just that calmness to be able to approach every single game like it’s any ordinary game. There’s obviously more on the line but I think that’s the mentality you have to have in order to stay calm and be your best.”
The Flames are banking on Kadri to help them capture their first Stanley Cup since 1989 after Colorado was able to get over the hump to win for the first time since 2001.
For Kadri, the feeling of reaching the top was something he will never forget. Now, he wants to match his feat.
“You embrace those moments and being at the pinnacle of hockey and winning the Stanley Cup, it just makes you addicted to the feeling of winning and getting to the playoffs, playing meaningful games, and scoring meaningful goals,” Kadri said. “I think that’s always something you cherish as a hockey player. And hopefully, we’re going to get another opportunity to do that.”
Currently on vacation in Paris, Kadri will get a chance to relive that feeling when he has his day with the Stanley Cup, which he will bring to his hometown of London, Ont., while also making an appearance in Toronto where he spent the first eight seasons of his pro career.
“I’ve done a lot of growing up in that city as well. And, and there have been lots of supporters of mine there,” Kadri said about bringing the Cup to both cities. “I’m hoping to see (lots of people) between the two and you know, it’s certainly an exciting day, and I’m looking forward to it.”
When it comes to getting acclimated to a new city, Kadri has had no problem getting information from former teammates Cale Makar and Logan O’Connor on what he can expect living in Calgary. He was also added to a group chat with current Flames teammates.
“They’re raving about Calgary, every single opportunity they get so and rightfully so. The city is full of great people and passionate people because I see that in their personalities,” Kadri said. “Cale messaged me right after and just kind of wished me the best and asked if I needed any advice on it in the city. He’s excited about coming for the home opener as well. So hopefully we can get the job done that night.”