As the offseason progresses, more and more names have come off the board, most recently Matthew Tkachuk, MacKenzie Weegar and an unexpected name in Jonathan Huberdeau, as a result of last night’s blockbuster. One name that has remained, perhaps sitting atop that board now, is UFA center Nazem Kadri. Fresh off a Stanley Cup, Kadri haas taken his time to decide, making clear he wants to go to a contender. Considering the contract he could command after his sensational 2021-22, the teams who appear to have made their offseason splashes already, and his desire to go to a contender, Kadri’s options could become more and more limited.
One destination rumored for Kadri has been the New York Islanders, and The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz says one league source confirmed to The Athletic that there are rumblings the Islanders have been making a push for Kadri (subscription required). Bringing Kadri into the fold would make sense for the Islanders, the team needing to improve its underperforming forward group and Kadri a two-way force that spent several seasons under Islanders’ GM Lou Lamoriello when both were with the Toronto Maple Leafs. On the other hand, the center position is pretty well cemented on Long Island, Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Casey Cizikas representing their core. On moving one of those five to the wing, one NHL coach told Kurz that Kadri is a center, not entertaining the idea of moving him to a wing, while an NHL scout wouldn’t consider the idea of moving Barzal off center, but did mention Brock Nelson, a sniper who scored 37 goals this season, as an option for the wing. Of course, all of this is hypothetical, with Kadri still very much a free agent, but the rumblings linking Kadri to the Islanders adds another wrinkle to the ever-developing story.
- Former star forward, assistant coach, and two-time Stanley Cup Champion Scott Gomez sat down with NJ.com’s Ryan Novozinsky to discuss his current career and his interest in returning to the NHL in some capacity (link). Since stepping away from his job as assistant coach with the Islanders in 2019, Gomez has worked with ELEV802, a company that builds small ice rink surfaces for children. As much as Gomez seems to enjoy his current role, he expressed interest in returning to the NHL, ideally in a team’s player development office, wanting to work with players individually, adding how important those in that role were to him in his development.
- Edmonton Oilers defenseman Brett Kulak had a chance to reflect on his trip to the UFA market and his decision to re-sign in Edmonton with Mike Arcuri of EdmontonOilers.com (link). A hometown player and native of Stony Plain, AB, Kulak nonetheless chose to take the experience and see what the market brought to him, considering it a potential once-in-a-career opportunity. Ultimately, the former Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens defenseman chose to stay-put, signing a four-year, $11MM contract, telling Arcuri that Edmonton’s offer gave him and his wife “the balance of things I wanted in my next contract,” citing opportunity, a good team, and dollar value as the things he was searching for. Kulak’s comments serve to shed light on the free agency experience for players and show that the decision is not always solely financial or solely personal, and impacts more than just the player. Coming from Kulak, a good NHL player, but not necessarily the prized-piece like a Johnny Gaudreau, brings light to how the average NHL player looks at these decisions, and even helps consider that no two players are exactly the same and each has plenty on their plate to influence the decision that they and their family members make.