NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 19, 2022
The Flames sign Nazem Kadri and trade Sean Monahan to the Canadiens, Carey Price appears unlikely to play this season, and the Predators will host the 2023 NHL Awards and Draft. Details and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
FLAMES SIGN KADRI, TRADE MONAHAN TO CANADIENS
CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed Nazem Kadri to a seven-year worth an annual average value of $7 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As of publication, the full details of Kadri’s new contract have not been revealed on Cap Friendly or Puck Pedia. I anticipate we’ll learn more about it in the coming days.
Kadri was the top player still available in the free-agent market. For weeks, the 31-year-old center was linked to the New York Islanders in the rumor mill. However, Flames general manager Brad Treliving quietly pulled off yet another major acquisition this summer that bolsters his club’s depth at center and replaces some of the snarl they lost by shipping Matthew Tkachuk to Florida last month.
Signing with the Flames may seem like a surprise on Kadri’s part given he spiked a trade to Calgary by the Toronto Maple Leafs three years ago. However, he later explained that he refused to waive his 10-team no-trade clause at the time because he wanted to stay with the Leafs. Kadri was subsequently traded to the Colorado Avalanche.
The $7 million cap hit reflects a player coming off a career-high 87-point season and a strong postseason performance. Kadri was underpaid on his previous contract, earning $4.5 million annually. It can be argued that the AAV is a little high by about $1 million but the Flames obviously believe he’s worth it.
It’s the term, however, that’s more concerning. A $7 million AAV over a three or four-year contract for a player who turns 32 on Oct. 6 could be considered a reasonable period of time. Paying that much for a player who will be approaching 39 by the time it’s over could prove burdensome for the Flames’ cap as his skills decline in the final half of that deal.
For Treliving, however, that’s an issue to deal with down the road. Signing Kadri and acquiring Jonathan Huberdeau should be suitable replacements for Tkachuk and the departed Johnny Gaudreau. These moves are expected to maintain the Flames’ place among the NHL’s top teams. No one will complain about the expense or length of Kadri’s contract if he helps them win the Stanley Cup.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens acquired Sean Monahan and a conditional first-round pick from the Flames in exchange for future considerations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames needed to clear cap space for Kadri’s contract. Trading Monahan and his $6.376 million cap hit for 2022-23 addressed that issue. The 27-year-old center said he’s looking forward to a fresh start after hip injuries hampered his performance over the past three seasons.
Monahan also indicated he’s recovered from hip surgery and is on the ice four days a week gearing up for the coming season. He’s hoping to be at 100 percent when training camp opens next month.
A strong performance will be crucial to Monahan’s playing career in the NHL. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer so a return to form in the coming season could earn him a new contract with the Canadiens or bolster his stock in next summer’s free-agent market.
The details surrounding the conditional first-rounder the Canadiens will receive are complicated. The Gazette’s Pat Hickey simplified it by explaining the Habs will receive one of the following: “Calgary’s choice in 2024, 2025 or 2026 or the Florida Panthers’ choice in 2025 or 2026. They could also get Calgary’s third-rounder in 2025 or a fourth-rounder in 2026.”
In other words, the Canadiens are guaranteed to get a first-round pick out of this sometime in 2024, 2025 or 2026.
PRICE TO GO ON LTIR, FUTURE OF PLAYING CAREER IN DOUBT
MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: The Canadiens could afford to acquire Monahan because it appears Carey Price will be on long-term injury reserve for this season. General manager Kent Hughes explained the news on the 35-year-old goalie’s ongoing recovery from a knee injury is “pretty discouraging”, adding there’s been no improvement in his rehab process. Price’s AAV is $10.5 million through 2025-26.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This news isn’t unexpected but it’s still rather sad. Price has been the face of the franchise for over a decade. However, he missed all but five games last season due to his ongoing rehab from last summer’s knee surgery, as well as a stint in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program and a bout of COVID-19. Those five games may have been the last he’ll ever play.
Placing Price on LTIR provides the Canadiens with the wiggle room to take on Monahan and perhaps make other additions as required. However, they won’t find anyone who can replace Price.
This news should also put an end to recent speculation suggesting Canadiens backup Jake Allen might be available.
IN OTHER NEWS…
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators will host the 2023 NHL Awards and the 2023 NHL Draft. The award show is scheduled for June 26, 2023, and the draft will be held on June 28 and 29 at Bridgestone Arena.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jim Rutherford blamed the mental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason why he stepped down as general manager of the Penguins last year. Given his age, he and his family rarely left home once the pandemic started. Confined to his home office, Rutherford said it affected his “mental toughness”.
“I don’t want to suggest I had mental health issues,” Rutherford told Jason Mackey. “The way I would describe it is I wasn’t mentally as strong as I should have been to be myself and continue to do that job. I was starting to react to things differently than I normally would, which led to where I got to.”
Rutherford insisted his departure had nothing to do with former Penguins president/CEO Dave Morehouse, whom he was rumored to be clashing with. He remains complimentary of his time with the team, saying he was well-treated by everyone (including Morehouse) throughout his tenure with the club. He’s now the president of hockey operations for the Vancouver Canucks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the pandemic has affected many people’s mental health to various degrees and continues to do so. The uncertainty and stress led me to reach out to a therapist earlier this year and I found it quite helpful in learning to adjust to this new reality.