This in from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet: “Hearing Nazem Kadri will be a Calgary Flame… Kadri 7x$7M in CAL…. Sean Monahan is going to MON to make room for Kadri.”
1. We don’t often write full posts on moves made by other teams through the lens of how it impacts the Edmonton Oilers. This Nazem Kadri deal is an exception in that it’s a major shift in the balance of power between Edmonton and Calgary in the Battle of Alberta, with both positive and negative implications for the Oilers.
2. One obvious positive is that if you love the Battle of Alberta, if one of your great hockey thrills in life is to see these two teams go head-to-head in the playoffs, the Kadri deal adds high octane gas to that fire. Calgary is now much more likely to make the playoffs in the next few years. Calgary is now also much more likely to beat the Oilers in a series. After the loss of Johnny Gaudreau and Matt Tkachuk, the Battle of Alberta looks like it was going to be one-sided for years to come, but the Battle is evidently going to rage for the next few seasons at least.
3. From an Oilers perspective, it’s also great that the Avs of Colorado did not find way to keep Kadri on some kind of major hometown discount deal. That would have made the Avs much harder to beat in next few years. And, make no mistake, the Avs are the real target of the Oilers here. Edmonton must get past that brilliant Avalanche team, so anything that weakens the Avs is good for Edmonton. Kadri not signing there weakens the Avs in the short term.
4. Kadri will be 32 this year. He gets seven million per year for seven years. Jonathan Huberdeau is 29 and will be 30 years old next year when his own eight year deal at $10.5 million per kicks in. In other words, Calgary will have a massive amount of cap space tied up in two forwards heading into what are generally declining years for NHL players. That represents a huge risk for the Flames, with the risk growing every season. Now it could be that the Flames will defy the odds and that both Kadri and Huberdeau will be highly productive players into their late 30s. It sometimes happen. But most often it does not, meaning Calgary will be saddled with one or two franchise-draining deals. The Oilers, by the way, also have this risk somewhat in long-term deal with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Evander Kane and Zach Hyman into their mid-30s, but these players make less than Huberdeau will make and aren’t signed into their late 30s.
5. If you think I’m making too much of this risk, here are just a few players signed to major deal who ended up being bought out in the last five seasons: Frans Nielsen, Brett Connolly, Martin Jones, James Neal, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Cory Schneider, Kyle Turris, Justin Abdelkader, Bobby Ryan, Kevin Shattenkirk, Andrej Sekera, Corey Perry, Troy Brouwer, Mike Cammalleri, Benoit Pouliot, Scott Hartnell, Dan Girardi. Remember, on the day they signed with their new teams, there would have been a great amount of optimism from all sides. This was certainly the case in Edmonton with players like Sekera and Pouliot. But, as we now know, things don’t always work out as players head into their 30s. Age and injury break down NHLers, sometimes with great rapidity.
6. Other warning signals for the Flames? They are signing Kadri and Huberdeau when the two players have maximum bargaining power. Both players are coming off career years in terms of point scoring, and both have maximum leverage, due to their free agency status and the fact Calgary is desperate just now to rebound from the Gaudreau/Tkachuk fiasco. Kadri had 87 points this year, with his previous high being 61 when he was 26-years-old. Huberdeau had 115 points this year with his previous high 92.
7. We will recall that a nasty hit from Evander Kane sent Kadri into the boards, fracturing his thumb and driving him from the playoffs. This is the kind of bad blood that will now boil in the Battle of Alberta. It should make for some, shall we say, interesting moments.
8. Calgary’s forward roster now includes, Kadri, Huberdeau, Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Mikael Backlund, Milan Lucic, Blake Coleman, Tyler Toffoli, Dillon Dube, Trevor Lewis, Jakob Pelletier and Kevin Rooney. The Flames will be an interesting team, in that so many of the players will be new to playing with one another. Will they come together? Will they find the right chemistry to win?