Kadri says strength of Flames’ roster played huge role in his decision

Colorado Avalanche centre Nazem Kadri, left, pursues the puck as Calgary Flames goaltender Dan Vladar defends in the third period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, March 13, 2022, in Denver. (David Zalubowski/AP)

After nearly a month of speculation on where this off-season’s top free agent would land, Nazem Kadri made his decision — the Calgary Flames — because of his feelings about the team’s chances to win.

The centre signed a seven-year, $49 million contract with the Flames on Thursday, capping an impressive rebound by general manager Brad Treliving after losing stars Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau.

Speaking on Thursday afternoon with Flames TV, Kadri attributed his choice to the Flames’ competitive future. “I obviously like the direction of the team and the moves we’ve made thus far,” Kadri said. “Our centre combos can match up with anybody, we have great depth on defence and exceptional talent in goal.

“All those are key factors in having a successful team and I’m thankful I get to be a part of that.”

Winning a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche last season, Kadri was a key contributor to the championship run, scoring seven goals (including a hat trick) for 15 points in 16 games. Kadri hopes to bring that winning experience to the Flames and believes the team is in a position to make a Cup run.

“That’s ultimately what you want, playing in the playoffs and playing those big moment games,” Kadri said. “It was pretty high on my list in going to a competitive team that I think could make some noise right away and that’s Calgary for me.”

In 2019, Kadri used his no-trade clause to block a move from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Flames, but he told Sportsnet’s Eric Francis that his decision had nothing to do with the city of Calgary and everything to do with wanting to stay a Maple Leaf.

“It was nothing against Calgary. I obviously love that city and love going there as a visiting team,” he told Francis at the time. “I just had aspirations of staying put (in Toronto). I came very close. It was a tough decision.”

Kadri reiterated his excitement to play in Calgary and to play in front of Calgary fans on Thursday.

“I love the city of Calgary, I’ve been visiting there for years,” Kadri said. “Always appreciated the Calgary Flames fanbase.”

Fans won’t have to wait long to watch Kadri suit up against his former team — the Flames are set to open their regular season at home on October 13 against the Colorado Avalanche.

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