Avalanche name a Nazem Kadri replacement, at least for now
The biggest piece that hasn’t come back from last season’s Stanley Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche team is Nazem Kadri, who got a nice new contract from the Calgary Flames.
Kadri was the team’s second-line center and earned a trip to the All-Star game last season. He spent three years in Colorado, the best of which was last year when he played in 71 games, scoring 28 goals and adding 59 assists. In the playoffs, he scored 15 points in 16 games, fighting through a severe hand injury suffered mid-Cup run. Kadri’s primary assists, ranking in the 97th percentile of the league, how many shots he generates, and his skills on the rush and puck retrieval on the forecheck were what made him so good in Burgundy. On top of that, Kadri’s physical, intense, and aggravating game gave the Avalanche an edge.
So who do the Avs slide into Kadri’s massive role?
For now, it’ll be Alex Newhook, Jared Bednar said Sunday.
Jared Bednar said he wants to give Alex Newhook a real shot at 2C, not just a few games. He said he’ll have multiple months — perhaps even until the trade deadline — to see what he can do.
— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) October 9, 2022
Newhook is a former first-round pick of the Avs who played his first full season in the NHL this past year. Playing in 71 games, Newhook scored 13 goals and added 20 assists. Newhook tacked on four points in 12 playoff games. The five-foot-10 21-year-old is a left-handed shot. One of his big issues, though, was a faceoff win percentage of just 35%.
Newhook was the 16th pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, a class that already includes blossoming stars like Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko, Bowen Byram, Moritz Seider, Dylan Cozens and Trevor Zegras.
Newhook gets the nod over J.T. Compher, another former top prospect of the Avs; the 27-year-old is entering his seventh NHL season and is in his prime. The six-footer is 27 years old and had similar stats to Newhook, scoring 18 goals and adding 15 assists in 70 games. Compher played in 20 playoff games, adding on eight points.
What’s interesting is just open Bednar was in saying that Newhook will have basically a three-quarter season tryout before the deadline to see if he can earn the role. If not, the Avs will make a move with their remaining cap space.
Newhook will make up the Avs skilled top-six forward group led by Nathan MacKinnon and complimented by Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, Valeri Nichushkin and Artturi Lehkonen.