Kypreos: It’s Time to Pay or Trade Nazem Kadri

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.  

Trading Kadri

“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?

  • Jeremy Ian

    5×5 is a dream scenario for both sides. kadri has played the best hockey of his young career under babcock but hasn’t produced points due to bad luck which has greatly worked in the favour of the leafs. if he signs a long term, sweetheart deal similar to gardiner or jvr’s, it’s a steal for us. if we draft matthews, we should keep kadri and not pursue stamkos so we’ll have matthews/kadri/marner/nylander/kapanen as the future forward core seeing as marner/nylander aren’t definitive centres, at least not yet. kadri wants to remain a leaf. lamoriello, shanahan and babcock love kadri. fans love kadri as well. it’s a win-win for everyone involved. hope he signs a gardiner-type deal because as lou said, naz kadri is someone you want on your team. he is emerging as a young, elite, two-way #2 centre and you don’t toss those away unless a deal is way too good to be true #resignkadri

  • SEER

    The one big problem I have with your analysis is the assumption that shooting percentage is luck and that it will mean revert. This is patently untrue in many cases. Truly great players don’t just shoot the puck as soon as they get it. They look for that perfect deke, or pass that puts the goalie out of position and sets up a high percentage play.

    Crosby doesn’t get 1.5 pts/game over his career because he takes 3 times as many shots as the average guy who puts up .5 pts/game!

    Wayne Gretzky was the poster boy for this. Marty McSorely once had a 50 GOAL campaign playing beside Gretzky. Never before that had McSorely ever been anything other than a face puncher like Colton Orr.

    My point is Kadri’s shooting percentage is low because he takes lots of (low percentage) shots. The only way his shooting percentage will rise is if he stops shooting the puck right at the goalie!

    Bozak gets more points because Bozak doesn’t just shoot the puck the first chance he gets, he looks for the better play.

    Bozak has a higher points per game than Kadri because he is the better player where it counts. His pedigree might not be there but Bozak has done nothing but exceed expectations his entire career.

    It is true that Kadri is younger than Bozak but if you can’t get Kadri for around 5 mil per year you trade him! And I don’t believe any GM is dumb enough to pay a 2nd line center that only scores .53 points per game more than 5 million.

  • SEER

    I’d like to see a two-three year deal… with Management setting the salary size.. and Kadri agreeing to it…

    Another new 2016 NHL Draft Prospect video, to share… This guy seems like he could play Wing or Defense.. Just love his point shots..!

    a.k.a. Mikhail “Sergachev”

    BIRTHYEAR 1998-06-25
    BIRTHPLACE Nizhnekamsk, RUS
    AGE 17
    NATION Russia
    HEIGHT 189 cm / 6’2″
    WEIGHT 93 kg / 205 lbs
    YOUTH TEAM Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk

    RECENT STATS: (*Up to Jan. 14th 2016)

    2015-16 Windsor Spitfires – OHL
    40 Games… 11 Goals… 16 Assists… 27 Points… +6
    2015-16 Team Russia U-17 – EYOF -17
    3 Games… 0 Goals…8 Assists… 8 Points… +6 *PPG+

    Hail To Mikhail: Mikhail Sergachyov 2015-16 Highlights – 2016 NHL Draft Prospect


  • Jeremy Ian

    Marty McSorley NEVER had a 50 goal season. His career high was 15 and overall total is 101. He’s never even had a 50 point season. Career high was 41 same year he got 15 goals.

  • Gary Empey

    I have always liked Kadri.

    Jay said he is “he is emerging as a young, elite, two-way #2 centre”.

    I think Kadri has turned into a great 3rd line two-way center on most good teams.

    He is 25.5 years old now. He has 8 goals so far this year. This is his 7th year in the Toronto system.

    If Stamkos was signed and Nylander moves up then Bozak and Kadri would be competing for the number three center position.

    Three years around the 4 million mark.

    I doubt if his trade value is as high as most of us Leaf fans think.

    • Jeremy Ian

      3 years X $4m? That’s pretty low. He’s making $4.1 now, would get at least $5m in arbitration. And I doubt he takes fewer than 5 years as he’ll (as anyone would) want his contract to stretch slightly beyond the peak years.

      But I do agree that his trade value’s not as high as Kypreos implied or fans believe.

      • Gary Empey

        I am not so sure Kadri would get 5 million in arbitration. He is on a pace to score 15 goals this year. He does have a lot of intangibles. Nylander is projected to soon play a first or second line center. If Leafs pick up a another center (we have to assume they would like to have one)do you really want to tie up 5/6 million for five years on Kadri.

        Do you think with Nylander and Kadri we are strong enough up the middle to make a deep run in the playoffs?

        When I think about it, if the Leafs were to announce ” We have finally found our elite center” – ” He has scored 8 goals and has 14 assists already this year”. “He is ranked 57th in points for centers this year” :”Last year he amassed 18 goals and 21 assists”

        Most fans would say WTF.

        • Jeremy Ian

          But the arbitrators take much more than one season in consideration because both sides point to projected performance. Where they differ is in the story the data tell. That’s why the hearings can be brutal on the relationships. Who likes hearing their best years are over?

          I have my doubts that Nylander is the 1C of the future. But I also don’t think Kadri is. The issue is Kadri vs Bozak; the latter makes $4.2m. Kadri is better defensively, tougher on the boards, and a better playmaker. I have a hard time even remembering Bozak deliver a check. On a second line, Kadri can make things pop. This is why the role should be as C2, pivoting between Nylander and JVR next year.

  • Harte of a Lion

    I think Kypreos is one of the most annoying know-it-all hockey busybodies that reports on the Leafs. If there is one thing he does worse than play hockey, it is comment on the team and its players.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Kypreos’s comments have the unintended consequences of making Bozak (UFA 2018) expendable. The decision to be made is not about Kadri, but who will take Bozak. I would dangle him in front of Pitt, now that Bonino is injured. Gets Bozak and Kessel back together. In return a mixture of picks and prospects and maybe take on Kunitz’s (UFA 2017) contract and flip him.

    Next year:





    Forget Drouin.

    Kadri at 5 years for $5m if he’ll take it. 6 years if need be. But at $5m he’s a steal for 6 years. More likely $5.5 for 5 years.

    Timashov, Kapanen, Shoshnikov, Leipsic, Johnson, Connor Brown all coming up the ranks eventually to replace eclipsing vets like Winnick (UFA 2017), Komarov (UFA 2018), Lupul (UFA 2018).

    You can squeeze this all in given the strength of the prospect pool, as long as you keep developing and cycling them in.

    This means trading Bozak now. Going hard after Stamkos if we don’t land Matthews.

    Cup run in three years.

  • Harte of a Lion

    We need to send some players to Pittsburgh while retaining salary so they make the playoffs. That should be a priority for our management, to ensure we get that 1st round pick.