Nazem Kadri entered as one of the highest-profile free agents hitting the market this summer. Now, weeks after free agency opened, he still remains available. Well, publicly, at least. In private, behind closed doors, his contract may already be executed. Multiple teams want the centre, but his asking price remains high and his desired term remains long. At the start of this season, he’ll be 32 years old. Long-term deals at that age don’t come easy, and with the cap environment currently, few teams possess the space and flexibility that facilitate that sort of contract. Multiple teams swirl in Kadri rumours, but one emerged recently as a frontrunner. And not in the usual “he’s about to sign” sense, but in the “he may have signed already and they just aren’t telling anyone” sense. If the rumours are true, Kadri may have signed already with the New York Islanders.
Rumours: Nazem Kadri Signed with New York Islanders?
#Isles fans, multiple transactions are looking close. In addition to all the Nazem Kadri chatter, which I believe is valid, some internal house cleaning is also being taken care of. When will all the dominoes fall? That’s up to you-know-who.
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) August 1, 2022
Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello holds his cards close to his chest. He always has, as long as he’s worked in the NHL. And in previous seasons, Lou signed players and made no announcement, so this wouldn’t be the first time he’s done this sort of thing. However, Kadri’s also a player in extremely high demand. This surprise signing would be quite a shock to the market, as the best centre available may have been unavailable this whole summer.
Coming off a career year, Kadri last signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Then a trade landed him with the Colorado Avalanche ahead of 2019-20. He played out the last three years of that contract with the Avs, culminating in a Stanley Cup championship this June. Kadri potted a whopping 87 points in just 71 games this year, including 28 goals. His possession metrics also hit new highs, with a dominant 14.2% Relative Corsi-for percentage.
Following up his regular season, Kadri went off in the postseason too. In 16 contests, Kadri found the back of the net seven times and collected 15 points. He missed five games due to a wrist injury during the playoffs too. It came during the Western Conference Final, holding him out until game four of the Stanley Cup Final. Kadri didn’t let that hold him back, immediately potting the game-winner in overtime of his first game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. That goal propelled the Avs to a 3-1 series lead, and they then closed it out two games later.
What this Means for the Future
The Avalanche will surely miss their second-line centre but believe they can promote from within to fill the hole. That’s easier said than done, as Kadri brings a lot to the table. Besides his production, his role as an agitator leaves a major mark. He carries himself professionally and plays a gritty, physical brand of hockey to boot. Those qualities earned him the contract he received from the Islanders, or so we think!
If the signing did happen, the Islanders absolutely landed a major player. For all the reasons above, Kadri will benefit New York. They look to bounce back after a disastrous 2021-22 season. Remember, just a year earlier, that squad lost in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Final to the Lightning. That was the Bolts’ second consecutive Cup victory, and the Isles nearly went the distance instead. Besides Kadri, they made a coaching change too. But otherwise, that roster looks much the same as it did last year, and even the year prior. So, was last year the outlier? If so, Kadri might be the needed spice to bounce them back into the contender realm.
— ESPNBoston (@ESPNBoston) July 27, 2022