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Nazem Kadri Embracing Veteran Role with Flames

The 33-year-old forward has begun to crave out a leadership role for himself on a retooling Flames team full of youth.

With the Calgary Flames on track to miss the playoffs for the second straight season, a retool/rebuild is likely on the horizon. The Flames are expected to welcome a wave of youth into the organization who will be the foundation for the future.

With every youth movement comes a need for veteran leadership. It’s crucial to surround young players with seasoned individuals that have experienced both the ups and downs of being in the NHL. As for the Flames, one veteran that has stepped up this season has been 33-year-old Nazem Kadri.

When the Flames signed Kadri back in the 2022 offseason, it was expected that they would be right back into contention in hopes of making another playoff run. Kadri signed a 7-year, $49 million deal with the club in hopes of contributing to team success while still being in his productive years.

Unfortunately the Flames would end up missing the 2023 postseason by only two points and the team would go through a significant change once Craig Conroy took over as GM in the 2023 offseason.

Flames’ Plans Unfazed Kadri During Strong Season

Throughout the 2023-24 season, Conroy would make it a mission to trade away pending unrestricted free agents that didn’t see Calgary as a long term option. Players such as Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm were traded for various assets as playoffs were no longer a reality. Fast forward to today where it’s clear the Flames will be entering a retooling stage where playoff contention is not likely anytime soon.

This begs the question of whether veterans such as Kadri would see a decline in performance or work ethic, but the opposite has occurred. This season, Kadri is on pace to put up the second most amount of points in his career. In 79 games, Kadri has notched 27 goals and 71 points. Putting those numbers up at 33-years-old and on a non-contending team is certainly admirable.

Nazem Kadri Calgary Flames NHL

Youth Have Contributed Towards Kadri’s Strong Play

Kadri’s play did not start off strong at first. The Flames had a miserable start to the season being 2-6-1 where multiple players struggled, Kadri being no exception. His overall presence and work ethic saw a noticeable drop as Calgary navigated through this tough stretch.

However as the Flames starting introducing young players such as Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil, Kadri began to turn a corner. For a large majority of the season, he centered both these young players where his play dramatically improved.

As a result of the introduction of young players, it’s provided veterans like Kadri to experience a spark in their game. Being around energetic young players is surely a reason to get your game back, and Kadri has experienced this exact thing. Additionally, Kadri’s strong play just strengthens his presence of being a role model and a leader which contributes to the team’ overall culture.

Players such as Zary and Pospisil can also credit Kadri on their strong impressions this season. These players seem to be benefiting from each other as playing with a seasoned veteran has surely made the transition to the NHL a bit easier. As more youth players suit up for the Flames, expect veterans like Kadri to be mentors for the next generation.

Kadri’s Future With the Flames

Many question Kadri’s future with the Flames given his age and where the franchise is at currently

It’s a good question to ask. The former 2022 Stanley Cup champion isn’t getting any younger and may only have a couple more seasons of being a productive top 6 forward. Given the direction the Flames are heading, would Kadri be willing to stick around during the tough times?

With past reports suggesting that Kadri may not want to stick around during a rebuild, it’s possible that he may eventually want out in order for another shot of winning a cup. However at the same time, Kadri may see being a mentor as an acceptable role at this stage of his career. Both scenarios are possible.

Kadri has 5 more years remaining on his current deal. It’s worth noting that he possess a no movement clause which switches to a modified no trade clause during the last 3 years of his deal. If Kadri did want out, it wouldn’t be an easy trade to facilitate but it wouldn’t be impossible, especially if he keeps up his strong play into next season and beyond.

However as of right now, Kadri has fully embraced his veteran role with the Flames. It’s unknown what the future holds for him, but for now he’s taken on the role of a mentor to help set a path for the next generation of Calgary Flames players.

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