Between drafting Auston Matthews and finding a dump truck big enough to carry all of Steven Stamkos’ money, this offseason is going to be a busy one for Brendan Shanahan and the Maple Leafs’ front office. As things sit right now the team has 13 pending RFAs, and aside from Casey Bailey, the team is likely going to want to retain them all. The most pressing name on the list is Morgan Rielly but a close second is likely Nazem Kadri.
After signing a one-year “show-me” contract worth $4.1m this past offseason, all reports point to Kadri looking for a long term contract that will run well into his UFA years. He’s going to want a raise and long-term security and with the way he’s been playing this season he most certainly deserves it.
This morning on The Fan590 morning show, Nick Kypreos started off a conversation about what Kadri might be looking for and what the Leafs might be looking to do with their best center as a result of his demands.
Let’s take a look on his perspective of the whole situation:
“There’s no question that they’re a lot happier with Kadri than they were this time last year”
This should go without saying. Kadri has been great this year. He’s adapted well to Babcock’s system and has turned into the offensively skilled two-way center most have seen him as for a while now. The point totals may not be where many fans would like to see them but that is largely due to luck. Kadri has an incredibly low shooting percentage (5.4%) and when it regulates he’s going to start scoring in bunches.
What He’s Looking For
“He can go to salary arb and get close to $5 million on his own”
If something long-term can’t be worked out Kadri’s is still arbitration eligible. Another one-year bridge deal is a possibility and Kypreos speculates that based on his salary for this year an arbitration ruling would come in around $5 million. This is a possibility but likely something neither Kadri nor the Leafs would be looking for.
“I can tell you he’s looking for a 5 or 6-year deal and if it’s not over 30 million he’s looking for its pretty darn close”
This sounds pretty reasonable to me. If the Leafs can lock up Kadri at anything under $6 million for the next five years it seems like a steal to me. He’s not a franchise center but he’d be an elite #2 and getting that long term in the price range Kypreos suggested is a great way to build your team.
What the Leafs Want
“If you don’t feel like you want to pay him 5.5 or 6 million a year then maybe somebody else will”
Kypreos speculates that the demands from Kadri might be too high for the Leafs, although this seems to be based on his valuation of Kadri as a player which seems absurdly low.
“I don’t know if he can ever score you 30 goals, He can fit nicely in that 50 point range… I don’t think he can get to 80 or 90 points a season”
The fundamental problem in Kypreos’ assertion is that there is a huge gap in his numbers. Sure Kadri will likely never get to 80 or 90 points, but that doesn’t make him a 50-point player for his career. He is currently on pace for almost 50 points and that is with a SH% that is half of what his career numbers would suggest. If Kadri can put up 60-70 points in while playing the kind of all-around game he’s shown this season then he’s definitely worth what Kypreos suggests he’s asking for.
Kadri of Bozak?
“You already have that guy in Bozak and he’s a lot cheaper. Do you want two of those guys?”
This is where things got really silly. To suggest Kadri and Bozak are the same player is a little odd and way off base. To start with Kadri is 55 months younger than Tyler Bozak. Aside from being almost 5 years younger, Kadri has also shown an ability to play a style that is significantly more conducive to winning than Bozak. Kadri’s possession numbers are much better and he contributes more to the overall play of the team.
“I don’t think that you need both of them”
Kypreos is right here, but not in his implication that Kadri is the redundancy. Kypreos talked about Bozak being the cheaper of the two and, therefore, the one that should be kept. The problem with tha tis that Kadri is worth at least an extra $1.5m on the cap over Bozak.
The Stamkos Factor
“If you think that you can get Stamkos then do you need Kadri at close to $6 million?”
Last time I checked, good teams need a good second line center. With Marner back on the wing in London and Nylander’s ability to play any forward position, having Kadri down the middle in the future makes sense, Stamkos or no Stamkos. Now if the question were if you think that you can get Stamkos and you’ve drafted Auston Matthews then do you need Kadri at close to $6m, that’s a totally different story.
“You can’t sign Kadri at close to $6 million and then push for Stamkos at 10 or 10 and a half”
Why not? Kypreos never explains. With an influx of talent up front coming in on entry level contracts in the coming years, you can afford these salaries.
“They’re in a position where they’re going to entertain all aspects of it and Kadri might be the shiniest piece they have right now.”
The possibility of trading Kadri does exist and Kypreos is right, he’s like the most valuable trading chip on forward that the team has now that JVR is injured. The problem is that this contradicts Kypreos’ earlier assertion that Kadri might not be worth the $6m to the Leafs since he’s “only” a 50-point player. If someone calls and asks about Kadri, the Leas are going to listen and if the deal improves the future of the team Kadri will be out the door. But that’s the case for every single player on the team.
“Kadri’s too old for Stevie Yzerman, that’s not what he’s looking for.”
Kypreos was asked about a deal centered around Kadri and Drouin. He insists that Kadri isn’t the type of player the Lightning would be looking for, that Yzerman is looking for a Johansen for Jones style deal. The problem with that is both Johansen and Jones are established young NHLers, Drouin is not. Kypreos mentioned that trading Drouin is trading a “3rd pick overall in the draft where many people were talking that he could go #1 overall”. This really isn’t true of 12 major draft rankings, only one (ESPNs Cory Pronman) had Drouin ranked #1. Drouin is young and has upside but I think a Drouin/Kadri trade doesn’t make sense for other reasons than the vlaue of the players.
“If you’re Stevie Yzerman right now and you’re calling the Leafs for Jonathan Drouin, you’re going ‘Morgan Rielly’”
This is probably true and it’s the reason I agree with our own Ryan Fancey that the Leafs should not pursue Jonathan Drouin.
It will be interesting to see how the Kadri negotiations play out and if anything comes of the idea that he might be traded if there is no contract to be agreed upon. I would absolutely be ok with a 5 year $29 million dollar deal for Kadi. How much would you pay him?