Nazem Kadri Likely to Become Extremely Overpaid

Heading into free agency, there are plenty of top-end players that several teams want to land. Among them are Johnny Gaudreau and Filip Forsberg, both of whom are among the most offensively gifted wingers in the game. Another is Nazem Kadri, who will arguably be the best centerman available if the Colorado Avalanche cannot sign him before July 13.

Related: Red Wings’ Yzerman Seems Ready to Make Blockbuster Move

Coming off of a six-year deal that underpaid at just $4.5 million per season, Kadri is preparing to take on what promises to be the biggest deal of his career. From the sound of it, several teams are in the running to add him, and there will be more as free agency quickly approaches. While he is a very good player, there is a good chance that whoever does sign him will go on to regret his salary in the future.

Kadri’s Value Sky High After Career Year

Kadri couldn’t have asked for a better season in what was the final year of his deal in 2021-22. He was one of the top forwards on a very strong Avalanche roster and excelled with a career-high 87 points in just 71 games. Had he been able to play the full 82-game schedule, he very well could have broken the 100-point barrier, proving just how excellent he was.

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

His excellence continued in the postseason (when healthy), as he managed 15 points in 16 outings. Perhaps even more impressive was that he returned for the Stanley Cup Final just 18 days after undergoing thumb surgery, scoring the overtime winner in his Game 4 return. His overall skill level, paired with his gamer mentality, impressed anyone who tuned in. With that said, giving him $10 million annually, which is reportedly what some teams are considering, would be a major mistake.

Before the 2021-22 season, Kadri’s career-high in points was in 2016-17 with 61 and marked the only time he had broken the 60-point barrier. Of course, there was and still is plenty more to his game than offense, as he plays a very solid two-way game and is also one of the best in the business at getting under his opponent’s skin.

While he has many different skills, every season before 2021-22 indicated that he was a very good second-line center. It seems many fans and NHL general managers alike are being blinded by one fantastic season and believe it will be the standard going forward when in all likelihood, it was a career year. Will he improve on his contributions going forward? Sure, but it isn’t likely, given the extremely large sample size beforehand.

Kadri’s on the Wrong Side of 30

The other major concern with signing him to a $10 million per season contract with term is that he isn’t young. Kadri will be 32 years old by the time the 2022-23 season begins and will have nearly 750 career games to his name. If team were to give him the maximum term at seven years, he would be heading into the final year of that deal at 38, an age where his numbers are likely to decline.

As we have seen often over the past 10 or so years, the league is getting younger and younger, as players still suiting up in their late 30s are becoming rare. In fact, it’s more common to see players slow down in their early 30s and get pushed out of the league. That, of course, won’t apply to Kadri, given that he is an exceptional talent, but who is to say that he won’t begin to decline within the next two to three seasons?

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

None of this is meant to attack Kadri as a player. He has been very consistent at both ends of the ice since his first full NHL season in 2012-13. Whichever organization lands him will be getting a very talented individual, one who now possesses Stanley Cup pedigree as well. That said, he is not worth $10 million, and if any team were to give him that, they will regret it down the line.

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