Quick Bit: The 2022 Stanley Cup champion remains the top available free agent.
It has been more than a week since the 2022 NHL free agency period opened, and several big names are still on the market. One of them is Nazem Kadri.
The 31-year-old center is fresh off winning the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche, the conclusion to a career year. He had 87 points in 71 games in the regular season and then followed that with 15 points in 16 playoff games.
Kadri’s camp has reported since the beginning of the free agency period that he will take his time and listen to all interested teams. But with many teams having already used an abundance of cap space, few can afford to bring in the center.
The Athletic’s Peter Baugh reported at the beginning of free agency that Kadri wants to go to a contender. A lot of those teams are unable to pay him right now; it will take a trade or two to clear room for a potential signing. That would explain why Kadri’s decision is taking so long; he’s waiting for clubs to move money around to get a deal done with him.
So, where will Kadri end up? The Sporting News lists four teams that could still land him.
The longer it takes for Kadri to sign, the more I’m convinced he’s giving new Avs general manager Chris McFarland time to create cap room for him. Colorado currently has about $3.9 million in space. Kadri may be willing to take a discount to stay with the defending champs, but not that much of one.
Looking at contracts, Sam Girard and J.T. Compher seem the likely candidates to be shipped out to accommodate Kadri. Girard has five years left at $5 million a year. He still has two years before his modified no-trade clause kicks in, so it would be easier to move him now. At just 24, he could be an intriguing option for teams looking to add a young, left-shot defenseman under team control.
Compher has one year left on his deal, which carries a cap hit of $3.5 million. Moving him alone isn’t enough, but with Nathan MacKinnon needing a new contract next season along with Alex Newhook and Bo Byram, the Avalanche have to look ahead and consider whether they can bring him back after the 2022-23 season. They can ship him out now to make room for Kadri instead of letting him walk next summer.
New York Islanders
The Islanders have had a quiet offseason. Their lone move has been to acquire defenseman Alexander Romanov from the Canadiens. New York missed out on Johnny Gaudreau in free agency. The roster appears to be more of the same from last season, when the Islanders missed the playoffs.
Brock Nelson, the team’s leading goal scorer last season. is their second-line center at the moment, but he can play wing. Bringing in Kadri and sliding Nelson over immediately improves the top six.
GM Lou Lamoriello has the money to sign Kadri (just over $11 million), but does need to keep cap space for 2023 when Mat Barzal will be due a new deal. It feels as if people have been waiting for the Islanders to do something big; bringing in Kadri could be that move.
The Predators have just under $8.5 million in available cap space. So far this offseason, they’ve re-signed star winger Filip Forsberg and traded for defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
Adding Kadri would be extremely beneficial to a team that needs help in its top six. It already has a plethora of centers with Matt Duchene, Mikael Granlund and Ryan Johansen on the roster, but there is flexibility to move one or two of them to wing.
I’m not sure the Predators can afford yet another forward making over $8 million a year, and they do have a handful of RFAs to keep in mind for next season with Dante Fabbro, Tanner Jeannot and Alexandre Carrier in need of new deals. But Kadri would give them an answer on offense and help keep them for falling into the trap of once again relying on goalie Jusse Saros too much.
The Kraken are obviously not a contender. Seattle is still building its organization as it heads into its second season in the NHL. There might have been optimism ahead of Year 1 to produce like the Golden Knights did in their inaugural season, but those expectations fell flat pretty quickly.
What the Kraken can offer Kadri is a long-term deal and a high AAV. Seattle has just under $10 million available in cap space and with just a couple of low-tier RFAs to sign. It would probably take some extra cash to convince Kadri to sign with Seattle, but there’s room for him to immediately come in as the No. 1 center.
He would be a great mentor to young centers Matty Beniers and Shane Wright and help the team build an identity that it currently lacks. But the money has to be intriguing enough for Kadri to commit himself to that, and the Kraken need to feel it’s beneficial to them to commit long term to a 31-year-old player.
Originally found on Sporting News Read More