AVALANCHE

A man Avalanche fans will never forget, Nazem Kadri officially leaves town

Aug 18, 2022, 10:51 AM | Updated: 11:29 am
Nazem Kadri...
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The long wait is over.

A fan favorite reportedly departed the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday morning, more than a month after NHL free agency officially began.

Nazem Kadri is headed to the Calgary Flames, according to multiple NHL insiders. It will be a seven-year deal worth an average of $7 million per year, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. Kadri was always a long shot for the Stanley Cup champion Avs to keep due to salary cap restraints, but this is still a blow.

Kadri endeared himself to Avalanche fans throughout the postseason with his excellent play, grittiness and fun personality. He also redeemed himself for past suspensions, including a killer against the St. Louis Blues in the 2021 postseason that cost him eight games. The Avs bowed out in Round 2 to the Vegas Golden Knights without Kadri in those playoffs.

But where to begin with the last three months and Kadri’s unbelievable journey? He had an amazing hat trick in Game of 4 of Round 2 against St. Louis after being the target of abhorrent racist death threats. He took a cheap shot from Evander Kane of the Oilers in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final, suffering a thumb injury that cost him four games.

Kadri ultimately returned in glorious fashion, scoring a memorable OT winner in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Lightning, one of the biggest goals in franchise history. Kadri’s speech at the championship parade was heartfelt and emotional, and the city of Denver clearly meant a ton to him.

It’s a huge payday for Kadri and a well deserved one. But that doesn’t lessen the sting of what he meant to the Avs both in the locker room and on the ice. His leadership and production will be tough to replace. Kadri had 87 points on 28 goals and 59 assists during the 2021-22 regular season. He added seven goals and eight assists in the playoffs.

The Avalanche were never going to be able to keep everyone, but losing Kadri is truly the end of a special era. Luckily, guys like Valeri Nichushkin, Josh Manson and Artturi Lehkonen are all re-signed, and the Avs will retain most of their superstar core.

Good luck and thanks for the memories, Naz.

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A man Avalanche fans will never forget, Nazem Kadri officially leaves town