Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving answered what everyone in the hockey world was wondering since free agency opened in mid-July: Where was Nazem Kadri going?
Kadri signed a seven-year, $49-million deal with the Flames on Thursday. Treliving said that he had been looking at the centre for a while. It went all the way back to trying to acquire Kadri via trade during his time as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“He’s got a unique combination of skill and snarl and he plays a premier position at centre ice,” Treliving said on Thursday. “He’s really developed the ability to play in all sorts of situations, as guys do over their careers as they mature.
“But that blend is unique, you know? He can play on the power play, he can play heavy, he’s highly, highly competitive, highly skilled, smart player, plays centre ice. He’s our kind of player.”
Why did it take so long? “It’s free agency,” Treliving said.
“You’re trying to find a fit, a number that works for him and number that works for us. And then once you get there, it’s a matter of finding space.”
The Flames GM also pulled the trigger on a trade to find that cap space. Calgary shipped Sean Monahan, along with a conditional 2025 first-round pick, to the Montreal Canadiens for future considerations.
“Monty’s been here a long time and you’re not going to find a better kid. I can’t say enough good things about (him),” Treliving said. “So you’re always sad to see those guys go and that’s a teammate. That’s a good friend of theirs but they’re excited about … adding a good player with championship pedigree.”
Treliving was reluctant to give up the first-round pick, but the move needed to be done for Kadri to make his way to Calgary.
“You hate doing it, but when there’s no space, you got to find space,” he said.
“If you want to make the move to bring the player in, you have to create the space — and when we’ve been living in a flat cap world here for the last number of years. You know that’s unfortunately the cost of doing business and it’s a tough pill to swallow.”