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 deal was announced on a day when Khadri and his wife were travelling in Europe and Flames general manager Brad Treliving was in Texas helping his daughter relocate for school.
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.
"A recent winner of the Stanley Cup. Put him with the current centreman we do have, we think that becomes a formidable group," Treliving said Thursday in a media Zoom call.
"This guy, he loves the stage. He's an ultimate competitor. He likes our team. Obviously, we've given him a good contract. Good for him. He had choices."
Kadri was selected seventh overall by Toronto in the 2009 NHL draft and has 512 points (219 goals, 293 assists) in 739 career games with the Maple Leafs and Colorado.
Confirmation of the signing, which also 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.
"It has been busy, no question," Treliving said. "The last month has probably been a little more dramatic just with the people involved, the players involved, but that's the job."
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.
"It's fairly well known that we tried to trade for Naz back when he was in Toronto," Treliving said. "He's got a unique combination of skill and snarl.
"Watching him over his career, he's really developed the ability to play in all sorts of situations as guys do over their career, as they mature. But that blend is unique. He can play on the power play, he can play heavy, he's highly, highly competitive, highly skilled. Smart player. Plays centre ice. He's our kind of player."
Monahan, selected sixth overall by the Flames in the 2013 draft, 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.
His season ended early in April when he underwent hip surgery and was placed on injured reserve. The remaining year on Monahan's contract is worth $6.3 million.
"The league's capped out. If you look around right now, there's not a lot of teams with a lot of space," Treliving said. "You try to get a deal done and then you know you've got to create space if you're able to get the player. It was a bit of a juggling act.
"I felt pretty comfortable that we had something in place with Naz over the course of the last week or so, and then it was a matter of trying to create some room for him."
As for his return from surgery, Monahan has his eyes set on training camp.
"I don't really want to have a target date. My goal is to show up to camp and be ready to go from Day 1," he said. "That's my target I guess, but if there are things that I'm feeling or lingering — I just don't want to have any setbacks.
"I've lived that and I've done that many times and just played with it. I'm going to try and be 100 per cent healthy and feel good mentally and come in and have a great season."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2022.
The Canadian Press