Flyers Should Target Kadri in Free Agency if Giroux Leaves

On a recent episode of 32 Thoughts: The Podcast, Elliotte Friedman said, “You know who’s a Flyer if he’s not signed? [Nazem] Kadri.” Which makes a ton of sense since it is going to be an aggressive retooling and the Flyers don’t plan on rebuilding, especially not if it’s going to take three to five years.

Related: Flyers’ Framework for a Successful Roster Retooling

During the recent press conference, Chuck Fletcher, the general manager, and Dave Scott, the Flyers’ governor, stated four names that are the core of the team. These names included Sean Couturier, Joel Farabee, Kevin Hayes, and Ryan Ellis. Fletcher and Scott of course brought up the fact that Claude Giroux’s future with the Philadelphia Flyers is his decision, but they have to put measures in place if he chooses to move on. Those measures would begin with Kadri.

Nazem Kadri Colorado Avalanche
Nazem Kadri, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

There are a ton of names that weren’t mentioned in regards to the core of the Flyers, including Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny. The team will have around $10-plus million to work with to retool if they let their free agents hit the open market. That means there will have to be a lot of others moving around. Teams will be calling, and the Flyers should listen to see what they can get in return.

Avalanche Will Have Tough Time Bringing Kadri Back

Ideally, as a Colorado Avalanche fan, you want to think that Kadri has really enjoyed the success and the players around him boosting his play. But a lot of the time, the reality is a player wants to cash in on a great contract year and set himself up for life. This is what may happen with Kadri. If Giroux leaves Philadelphia, or even if he doesn’t, the Flyers are going to be moving money and contracts around and have more than enough to give Kadri what he asks for.

Colorado doesn’t have a goaltender signed next season and that will be a top priority if they want to continue to compete for a Stanley Cup every year. They also have five more key players that they should be looking to re-sign after this season and next, which include the likes of Nathan MacKinnon, Andre Burakovsky, Valeri Nichushkin, Bowen Byram, and more. All these players are due for raises, and Kadri will be looking for six or seven years on his next and final big deal of his career.

Maybe the team will look and replace Kadri for cheaper on the second line in free agency or test out what they have on their roster right now. Alex Newhook may be the most obvious fill internally if you look at it right now, but the hope is that J.T. Compher or Tyson Jost take the next step. The reality is that this is a career year for Kadri and it is very likely that he will regress next year and beyond, especially playing anywhere but on the top scoring team in the league.

Where Would Kadri Fit In the Flyers’ Lineup?

A question you might be wondering is why would the Flyers target another centre when two of the core players mentioned are natural centermen? Giroux was that once, but he is now capable of being a legit winger as well complementing Couturier or running his own line.

Having three solid centermen on a team can give the coach so many options to arrange his lineups and the flexibility to shuffle the lines around if that’s needed. Speaking as if Giroux isn’t coming back, Couturier can play first line centre, Kadri second, and Hayes shift down to third like we have seen from him throughout his career. Fill the wingers in and this would give the Flyers the forward depth and scoring from all the lines that we know when the team is winning. This would also spread out the ice time and create mismatches against almost every other team.

Sean Couturier Philadelphia Flyers
Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

That would be the best course of action since all three would feel more comfortable at centre. But the other could be to try one of them out at wing on either the first or second line. As I said, Giroux did it, so why not try that formula again in the hopes it works. The most likely one of the three to move to the wing would be Kadri since Couturier and Hayes are very good two-way players and the team would benefit from keeping them apart.

Kadri would be joining a team where he wouldn’t be the go-to man for producing points like how it is on Colorado and he also wouldn’t be on the third line like how he was in his final year with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Due to the constant injuries of Hayes, Kadri would be a great safety net that will be a big contributor for years on the Flyers. In case something like what happened this year with the injuries piling up happens next season, the team will have a plan in place to deal with it.

Whether Giroux leaves or not, big changes are coming, that’s one thing we do know. The Flyers are going to do everything in their power to stay competitive and hope that the younger players also add to that next season. You can expect some notable names to be on a new team next year and expect the Flyers’ management to throw everything they have at free agents this summer.