Ex-Maple Leafs’ Nazem Kadri Wins Stanley Cup: What’s Next?

I can’t say I’m always happy with the way Nazem Kadri plays, but I respect him a lot for what he does. Ironically, I recall that, when Kadri was traded to the Colorado Avalanche, Maple Leafs’ fans and Kadri supporters felt it was so unfair.

Related: Toronto Maple Leafs: Revisiting the Nazem Kadri Trade

At that time the Avalanche were just emerging from the NHL’s cellar and I remember one particular fan commenting on a post that he thought it was wrong that Kadri, who had given his heart, soul, and blood for the Maple Leafs, was being moved just when the team was going to become a world-beater. 

Odd, right? 

Kadri Is Now a Stanley Cup Champion

Last night, the Avalanche became NHL champions and Kadri was a huge part of that victory. Yesterday, it was reported that the London, Ontario, native had to have his injured thumb “frozen” so that he could play in Games 4, 5, and 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Nazem Kadri Colorado Avalanche
Nazem Kadri, Colorado Avalanche (Getty Images)

Kadri who in so many ways has become the motor of the Avalanche broke his thumb in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. During the middle of the Stanley Cup run, Kadri underwent surgery to repair that thumb, forcing him to miss Game 4 against Edmonton. He also missed the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

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Miraculously, Kadri came back for Game 4 and scored the overtime-winning goal. At the time, he had little strength in his injured hand as he needed to wear a special glove for protection. But, Kadri said in an article by Sportsnet’s Luke Fox, “Nothing was going to stop me from being out here.” 

Related: Avalanche’s Kadri Is the Perfect Complement to Their Roster

Kadri admitted that “It was terrible. Terrible. I felt it every single shift, and it was tough. I turned a six-week (recovery) timeline into two weeks. Great medical staff helped me along the way. I couldn’t even tie my skates before the game. I had the medical trainer tie my skates before every game.“

[As an aside, the link above will take readers to a great article written by Sportsnet’s Luke Fox about Kadri and his journey to the Stanley Cup. I encourage readers to read it.]

Where Will Kadri Land in His Next Contract?

By the way, there’s been a lot of talk about Kadri’s next contract. He’s a UFA this offseason. I can’t see him leaving Colorado. Nor can I see him putting the squeeze on his Avalanche employers for huge money. Sure, he’ll get a well-deserved raise; he’s been on a bargain contract for years. However, I don’t think he will try to break the bank.

Nathan MacKinnon Colorado Avalanche 2022 Stanley Cup
Nathan MacKinnon said he would sign another team-friendly contract with the Colorado Avalanche.
Here he lifts the Stanley Cup (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

There are three reasons why I believe Kadri will stay in Denver. First, if I read him right, he longs for a home. When he finds one, he doesn’t break those bonds easily. Last week, I wrote about Kadri finally selling his downtown Toronto penthouse apartment after all the years he’s been gone. 

Related: Avalanche’s Kadri At His Polarizing Best Against Blues

For me, that story was more than a Robin Leach episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous that shares the wow value of Kadri owning a $5.4 million penthouse. I believe it’s telling that it took him so long to cut his ties with Toronto. He loved it here. Now that he’s found a home in Denver, I can’t see him leaving. He said as much in his interview immediately after the game.

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Second, Nathan MacKinnon is legendary for signing a team-friendly deal to stay with the same group of players so they could win a Stanley Cup together, which the team did. With that kind of example and one of the team’s best players ponying up with that attitude, it’s hard not to buy in. And, Kadri – after suffering from racial slurs and having his life threatened – is one of the core guys on the team. He feels he belongs. It’s his home now.

Third, Kadri is part of a Cup-winning team, and that doesn’t happen that often. I can see the group wanting to keep the same group together. The impetus to win one more time will be a compelling reason for him to stay. 

What Might Kadri’s Numbers Be on His Next Contract?

In an article written on Friday, the Toronto Stars Kevin McGran wrote about Kadri’s legend and noted that it was his heart and competitive fire that has made him remain a favorite in Leafs’ Nation. McGran then speculated, given that Kadri is an unrestricted free agent this summer and he’s in line for a healthy raise, what that raise might be. (from “Leafs mailbag: We’re talking about dollar days for Kadri, Kuemper, Campbell and (it’s never too early) Auston Matthews, Kevin McGran, Toronto Star, 24/06/2022).

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Giordano, Robertson, Kadri vs Hyman

Currently, Kadri’s on an expiring contract that has paid $4.5 million per season. McGran threw out the number of $7.5 million. While he might be correct, I’m thinking that he’ll sign for at least a million less than that. 

Although we don’t know right now what that number will be for Kadri’s next contract will be, we do know that it won’t be with the Maple Leafs. Congratulations to Kadri for winning the Stanley Cup. You are missed by many of us in Toronto.