Sat. May 25th, 2024

Aside from Jonathan Huberdeau, there was arguably no skater on the Calgary Flames who needed a bigger bounce-back season than Nazem Kadri. The 33-year-old was expected to be a big part of why the Flames were a contender in 2022-23, as fans expected big things from him after he was signed to a seven-year, $49 million deal.

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Instead, Kadri, like many on the Flames roster last season, struggled to put up points. The first half of the year was actually a personal success, as he was selected to play in the All-Star Game. Afterward, however, his production took a nose dive, and many fans began to question his effort level near the end of the year. While he sounded more than excited to return to Calgary for year two, his body language on the ice is continuing to raise concerns.

Kadri Looking Lost Once Again

Over the second half of the 2022-23 season, Kadri often appeared disinterested, with his effort level coming into question on more than one occasion. While nothing was confirmed by the 32-year-old, some reports suggested he and former head coach Darryl Sutter didn’t see eye-to-eye, which had some believing he had quit on his then-coach.

Nazem Kadri, Calgary Flames (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Had Kadri come out of the gates red hot to start the 2023-24 season, perhaps that argument would be valid. However, he has looked the exact same, if not even worse, through six games. Not only has he yet to score a goal, but he has just a lone assist. Aside from a fight versus Columbus Blue Jackets forward Cole Sillinger, he seems to lack motivation in the early going.

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What is making Kadri’s early season struggles all the more frustrating is that the Flames haven’t been very good as a group. Through six games, they have amassed a rather disappointing 2-3-1 record, and have done little to suggest that they are an improved team with Sutter out of the picture.

Kadri’s Deal Could Become Problematic

While Kadri still seems to have good hockey left in him, you can’t help but start having concerns regarding his age and whether that may be having an impact on his play. It is no secret that NHL athletes on average have their best playing days prior to hitting their 30th birthday. Some are an exception, and the Flames certainly banked on Kadri being one. Now, they are simply left to hope that is the case.

Kadri not only has six years remaining on his contract but carries a full no-move clause through the 2025-26 season. In the final three years of the deal, he will have a modified 13-team no-trade list. This would make it almost impossible for general manager Craig Conroy to deal with him at any point throughout his contract should his struggles continue. If he found a trade partner, he would likely be forced to retain a significant amount of dollars on the deal or throw in some major incentives.

Flames Need the Kadri They Paid For

As disappointing as Kadri’s tenure with the Flames has been, there is still hope he can turn things around. Prior to joining the Flames, he was regarded as a very dependable top-six forward who boasted impressive skills at both ends of the ice. In fact, prior to signing his current seven-year deal, he had a career year in which he posted 87 points in 71 games with the Colorado Avalanche.

Related: Flames’ Huberdeau Showing Concerning Tendencies Early On

What’s good for Kadri’s sake of turning things around is that Ryan Huska has remained committed to giving him ice time. He remains on the second line centering Jonathan Huberdeau and Dillon Dube, and is still a part of the first-unit power play. That said, if his struggles continue much longer, Huska will have no choice but to demote him in the lineup as he looks to get his team turned around.

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The post Flames’ Kadri Looks Disinterested Through 6 Games appeared first on WorldNewsEra.

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