Apparently, you should never count out Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving.
Despite weeks of assumption the top unrestricted free agent was off the market, destined to join the New York Islanders, the Flames made their move.
To make the money work on a seven-year deal worth $49 million for Nazem Kadri, Treliving had to move out some salary.
That meant a second announcement.
Longtime Calgary Flames centre Sean Monahan and his hefty $6.375M cap hit was shipped to Montreal along with a conditional 2025 first-round pick. For future considerations, which may be a thank-you card.
In a matter of weeks, the Flames have undergone such substantial changes, the franchise has essentially been reborn.
Gone are former faces of the franchise Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Monahan. In are Jonathan Huberdeau, Kadri, and MacKenzie Weegar. Deeper at centre. Stronger on defence. A Vezina finalist in goal.
The commitment to overcoming the sting of two 100-point players choosing not to sign long-term deals in Calgary by ferociously chasing talented new players who were is a good look for Treliving.
Flames boast competitive group
“Nazem is a highly competitive top six player who makes our centre ice position deep,” Treliving said in the team’s official announcement of the signing.
On Treliving’s birthday, no less.
“He brings a high skill level and determination to our group combined with his recent experience of a Stanley Cup championship. We look forward to welcoming Nazem and his family to Calgary and his contributions to our team’s ultimate success,” Treliving added.
Kadri’s addition offers Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter one of the deepest groups at centre. Monahan was a goal-scoring machine until injuries were impossible to overcome. And while he may see a resurgence with the Canadiens after two separate hip surgeries the last two years, Kadri is coming off a Stanley Cup season with the Colorado Avalanche.
With Selke finalist Elias Lindholm, Kadri and Mikael Backlund down the middle, the options to balance scoring might be scarier than the league’s top line last year. When Gaudreau, Lindholm and Tkachuk were silenced, the Calgary Flames rarely had an answer.
Especially in the playoffs.
Flames counter losses, improve team
The playmaking the team lost with Gaudreau’s departure was countered by the addition of Huberdeau. All the snarl lost with Tkachuk’s trade was recaptured by the Kadri signing.
He wasn’t a 100-point player with the Avs but the 31-year-old posted the best numbers of his career last year. In 71 games he scored 28 goals and added 59 assists for 87 points.
And although he rejected a trade to the Calgary Flames in 2019 because he wanted to remain a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, he never forgot they wanted him.
“This is an exciting day for my family,” said Kadri in the team release. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to join such a passionate fan base and organization.
“I’ve always loved the city of Calgary and I look forward to giving everything I have to this team. Winning a Stanley Cup is a true honour, and it only makes you want it more. I would love nothing more but to see another banner in Calgary. Go Flames go.”
Treliving’s summer moves may have ensured the team has a better shot at that Cup next spring.