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Kadri’s Game Fits the Island, But Does Acquisition Make Sense?



Nazem Kadri, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders struck out on star free agent Johnny Gaudreau, but there is another highly talented forward available, and that’s 2022 Stanley Cup winner Nazem Kadri.

There’s Interest By Islanders

In Monday’s ’32 Thoughts’ podcast, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman shared that the New York Rangers, the New York Islanders, and the Calgary Flames were three teams that showed interest in the gritty forward, who is set up for a payday.

On Wednesday, the New York Rangers signed Vincent Trocheck to a seven-year deal, which took them out of the running for Nazem Kadri.

On Thursday’s episode of the podcast, Friedman updated his reports, sharing that the New York Islanders and the Colorado Avalanche are two teams that are showing interest in Kadri, but believe there are many other teams involved.

He also shared that the Columbus Blue Jackets were heavily going after Kadri, but when Johnny Gaudreau became a legitimate option, they went that route.

Adrian Dater, who covers the Avalanche for Colorado Hockey Now, stated that Kadri wants to return to the Avalanche, but their cap situation after the extension that Valeri Nichuskin signed, makes re-signing Kadri anything but easy.

Kadri also says he knows his worth, so the likelihood of him giving Joe Sakic a major discount is slim to none. 

Dater also reported that the Calgary Flames have shown interest in Kadri, as Calgary has cap space they did not quite believe they would have with Gaudreau leaving them for dead.

With any substantial signing the Islanders make, having the cap space becomes the issue.

Does the Move Make Sense for Islanders?

The New York Islanders already have four centermen in Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Casey Cizikas. The Islanders need a scorer, and Nazem Kadri does fit that role.

In 2021-22, Nazem Kadri lit the lamp 28 goals and 59 assists in 71 games played. In the postseason, in which he missed games due to finger surgery, put up seven goals and eight assists in 15 games.

He scored the game-winning goal in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, on a strong individual effort as he cut to the net and made a quick move to beat Andrei Vasilevskiy.


Kadri is also someone who has failed to get the credit he deserves. He works hard, he grinds on the ice, plays many roles for a championship aspiring team, and is the definition of the New York Islanders in a nutshell.

He’s a tough player to play against and will make the Islanders a tougher team.

Is Kadri the Answer?

Lamoriello’s Islanders are a team made up of a majority of middle-six players who have the heart and soul to play as a unit, which brings about success in the postseason. But they are missing that spark player that can get them to play the way they need to play during the regular season, a piece that can get the offense going.

Nazem Kadri wants to be paid, and the 31-year-old centerman could be getting $7.5 to $8.5 million a year, in what will be a likely long-term investment. 

The Islanders, like we have said in a handful of examples in response to acquiring centers, is that someone on the roster would need to be moved to the wing, or a center would need to be shipped out.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau struggled in 2021-22 and has five years remaining on his deal with a $5 million AAV.

The injury to Pageau’s hand in the 2021 postseason seemed to have lingering effects this past season, and who knows if he will ever be the effective player he once was. Pageau wears many hats, and moving his contract might not be as hard as people would think. 

One of his hats was centering the third line.

But Nazem Kadri is not a no. 3 center, and with the power in his hands this offseason, will want to go somewhere where he is going to get top-six minutes and special team minutes.

Now the Islanders could move Mathew Barzal to the wing and have Kadri at center on top line, second line. Kadri won 49.1% of his face-offs in 2021-22, with Barzal winning just 46.3%.

Kadri, who stands at 6’0, 192 lbs, is a player that does similar things as Anders Lee and Kyle Palmieri, in terms of crashing the net. He’s a game-changing player. He finishes chances.

Unless Mathew Barzal or Brock Nelson is moving to the wing, Kadri just does not fit right now.

This is a freezing cold take, but if the New York Islanders were that high on Nazem Kadri and want him to be the no.1 center for this club, then trading Barzal in a package for that elite left winger might make the most sense, given Kadri’s rumored contract.

I’m not saying that this is the right move at all–I’m just saying.

Everyone loves to pile on New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello for waiting, and waiting, and waiting to make moves. At points, it’s understandable, but the Islanders are not going to get better by rushing.

Yes, Kadri is the next best player available, but the Islanders do not need a center. They need a prolific-goal scoring winger. Whether the Islanders reach back out to the Vancouver Canucks regarding J.T. Miller or ask around about another scorer, the trade option is likely the best way for the Islanders to improve.


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