Could Nazem Kadri Choose the Montreal Canadiens?

Jan 22, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Nazem Kadri (91) and Montreal Canadiens center Nick Suzuki. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 22, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Nazem Kadri (91) and Montreal Canadiens center Nick Suzuki. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The Montreal Canadiens enter the offseason with some big questions to answer surrounding some of their biggest names. Will and of Carey Price, Shea Weber or Jeff Petry be playing for the Habs, or still in the organization next season?

Price is unlikely to go elsewhere due to his questionable health status and large contract. No one is going to trade for him and then hope he gets healthy enough to play. If he doesn’t play, he could be on long-term injured reserve all season, giving the Canadiens cap relief.

Weber could be on LTIR as well, or his contract could be traded. He has four years left with a cap hit just under $8 million per year. He is only owed a total of $6 million combined over those four seasons so a budget conscience team may acquire him to eat up cap space and help them get to the floor and save actual dollars.

Petry wanted out early in the season and his desire to leave still remains apparently. If he gets his wish, that’s another $6.25 million cleared off the books for the next three seasons. Of course, with Covid restrictions loosening in Canada, it is possible his family is happy to return to Montreal next season.

If the Canadiens can trade both Petry and Weber, they will have tons of cap space to spend this offseason. If they also have Price moving to LTIR they will hit free agency with boatloads of cash available to spend if they desire.

General Manager Kent Hughes has mentioned he doesn’t think the Canadiens will be in on the big free agents this summer. He also said he would let Dominique Ducharme coach the team until the end of the 2021-22 season.

So, if he happens to find himself with tons of cap space, and a player happens to want to join the Canadiens organization, it could come together. The names rumoured to possibly be choosing Montreal as free agents have been Patrice Bergeron and Kris Letang. But it really makes no sense for a 36 year old Bergeron to leave a great situation in Boston, where he has been all his career.

Letang also has to choose whether he wants to be teammates with Sidney Crosby next season or not. At 35 years old, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to leave that situation and sign with the last place team.

If the Canadiens are going to land a free agent this offseason, it will be someone younger than 35 or 36. It remains unlikely that they will sign a big name free agent, but if they find themselves with plenty of cap space, and get a great offer for Christian Dvorak, there is one big name free agent that could make sense.

Nazem Kadri just had his best season of his NHL career. He is hitting the open market at 31 years of age, so he isn’t a young prospect anymore, but he has a few good years of hockey ahead of him for sure. Signing him to a longer term contract would give him a chance to help the Canadiens turn things around and contend in a couple of seasons.

Montreal is admittedly not the ideal destination for many free agents. But Kadri did grow up as a Habs fan, at the very least the son of an avid Habs fan. He was also pushed out of Toronto after John Tavares chose to play for his favroite boyhood team and talked about wearing there pyjamas and tweeted out a picture of his Maple Leafs bed sheets as a kid.

I don’t know if Kadri had Canadiens bed sheets or pyjamas as a kid, but he definitely had a Habs jersey matching his father’s.

When asked earlier this week in a “mailbag” segment on his article for NorthStarBets, Chris Johnston mentioned Montreal as a possible landing spot for Kadri this offseason. Johnston is known as an NHL Insider, but he was clear to state this was not a firm prediction, but as the son of a devout Canadiens fan, it would be a spicy spot for Kadri to land.

The former Toronto Maple Leaf and current Colorado Avalanche centre just had his best offence season yet. He scored 28 goals and 87 points in 71 games, while playing second line centre and first power play duties for the Avalanche.

At 31, he isn’t the perfect age for the Canadiens to target in free agency right now. They aren’t ready to compete yet, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to sign big name free agents. They also don’t have a big need at centre for the first time in many, many years.

But, if the Habs get a good offer for Dvorak, signing Kadri would be a big upgrade down the middle. He has also been through almost everything imaginable as a hockey player so he could be a good veteran mentor for Shane Wright who is likely to be drafted first overall.

Kadri was taken 7th overall by the Maple Leafs in 2009. He has gone through everything from racism to being labeled a diver, a bust, to a playoff maniac who can’t control his emotions. He battled through all of it to become as good of a second line centre as exists in hockey right now.

Though he was suspended in three different postseason for crossing the line with his play, he does have 39 career playoff points in 45 games. He plays hard at both ends of the ice and can be counted on defensively as well as offensively to get the job done.

If, and only if, he is quite interested in signing with Montreal and will work with them a little bit on his contract demands, the Habs should be very interested. A seven year contract with a cap hit of $8 million if just too much for a player this age.

But if he really wants to sign in Montreal, and doesn’t follow the Tavares playbook by demanding all the money, a five year contract with a cap hit around $7 million would give the Canadiens tremendous depth down the middle to build this team around for the next half decade.

A Winning Habit
A Winning Habit /

Want your voice heard? Join the A Winning Habit team!

Write for us!

Related Story. Should the Habs trade up at the NHL Draft?. light