The Calgary Flames sold Nazem Kadri on the franchise being a Stanley Cup contender.
Fresh off winning that Cup with the Colorado Avalanche, Kadri will become a critical piece of a team trying to supplant his former club atop the Western Conference.
It’s something that the confident, enthusiastic 31-year-old is ready to take on.
But if not for the way Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving turned the team’s fortunes around after the departure of Johnny Gaudreau and rejection from Matthew Tkachuk, this deal likely wouldn’t have come to fruition.
“The patience definitely did me some good,” Kadri said Friday from a hotel in France. “Calgary was always a team that was interested since Day 1, which I definitely respected and acknowledged.”
But that respect didn’t create the same desire as the pitch that came following the trade for Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar, the extension of Huberdeau’s contract and new deals for young core pieces Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington.
“Certainly a great rebound. It’s not easy losing your two best players. That was something I’m sure a lot of people were concerned about. In retrospect, I think the return has been significant. I think Brad’s done a great job.”
Recruitment has been a strong suit for Treliving this summer. At least with newcomers. He made Huberdeau feel wanted following the blockbuster NHL trade and convinced him to sign an eight-year extension. His courting of Kadri spans way back to 2019.
Flames tried to trade for Kadri
At the time, the Toronto Maple Leafs pivot blocked the deal with the Calgary Flames with his no-trade clause. But he’s been on record since saying that was about giving himself his best chance at staying in Toronto. He doubled down on that Friday as he gushed about the respect he has for the city and the fans as a Canadian boy.
“Calgary was always someone that was interested in me not from just a few weeks ago, but even a few years ago and have kind of always been on my radar,” said Kadri. “I can’t wait to get to Calgary and show the fans what we have.
“I’ve always admired the C of Red, the atmosphere in the arena. The fans of Calgary, first and foremost. I think it’s going to be a nice transition for me, them just embracing me and welcoming me. I’m apparently their kind of player.”
The combination of skill and snarl is appealing, for sure.
And there’s a fresh taste of championship in his mouth, too.
The fact the Calgary Flames franchise feels strongly they can get him back there, combined with his belief he can help make that happen, bodes well for the union.
“Ultimately it’s about winning and about being a contender. That played a huge factor in me coming to Calgary. Understanding that the time is now,” Kadri said.
“It certainly could be close with the moves we’ve made and me hopping on board.”