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Nazem Kadri
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Hockey Analytics

NHL ANALYTICS: Kadri Contract Year Continues

by Gus Katsaros
Updated On: January 13, 2022, 2:03 am ET

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Entering Tuesday’s road game against the Nashville Predators, the scorching hot, Nazem Kadri, ranked fourth in league scoring, and only second in points per game behind Connor McDavid. He added two assists to bump him to 48 points and comfortably in fourth place overall.

Nazem Kadri being 5th in the league in points isn't getting talked about enough.

— Corey Sznajder (@ShutdownLine) January 5, 2022

The pending unrestricted free agent at the end of 2021-22 is 13 points back of career high 61 points racing at a 130-point pace. He leads the Avalanche in 5v5 scoring – 26 points feature 19 assists, 15 of which are primary – and in the end, lifting up the potential price of his next contract, at the age of 31.

The ever wonderful Evolving Hockey encapsulates just how impressive his 2021-22 season is, providing a snapshot of his worth. Kadri is killing the GAR (goals above replacement) metric, while outperforming his expected GAR by more than double. His offensive production this season, showing in the 99th percentile peaking right on time and with half a season yet to be played – COVID assumptions aside.

 

Nazem Kadri Player Card from Evolving Hockey

 

Positional versatility is a trademark characteristic, being able to slide up and down the roster to provide support to a struggling line, or to enhance an already potent combination, like a Zach Hyman type, but with better offensive instincts and touch.

According to the charts at the bottom, he’s getting first line minutes at even strength and first unit power play time. Historically he hasn’t received much time killing penalties, an item at odds due to skating limitations and some lack of static explosiveness since his rookie campaign.

Kadri’s skating has improved since entering the league, while being steady and balanced on his skates, but he lacks a top end foot speed and explosive first few steps, skills that could have vaulted him from a mid-tier forward and into genuine stardom.

Kadri dominated OHL level with puck control, creativity and skating at junior level pace, but struggled early on in his NHL career, while consistently butting heads with former Leafs coach Ron Wilson and Randy Carlyle. He blossomed under Mike Babcock putting up career high consecutive 32 goal seasons. He signed a 6-yr $27,000,000 contract extension with Toronto that is set to expire at the end of the season.

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Contract Year

Sitting at a very reasonable $4.5 million dollar bargain, the mid-tier forward has been straight dynamite for the Avalanche all season, shuffled through the lineup as required.

Below is the game log (all situations) from this season. Aside from a four-game pointless streak and a couple of missed games, Kadri had points in 27 of 31 games, and 14 multiple point games. He hit the gates running producing a season high iCF – outlining individual shot attempts – in the first game of the season – ominously signaling all the good events to come. He’s contributed 22 games with at least five individual shot attempts, in addition to five or more shots on goal in seven games.

Nazem Kadri 2021-22 Game Log

The spectrum of these shot metrics lead to production.

The season broken down into quarters shows a bit of a slowdown overall, echoed by his outperforming eight goals in Q1 against 5.51 expected goals in Q1 and four to 3.54 in Q2. His first quarter production featured a pointless in four games slump before igniting for a season high nine game point streak. He was shotless twice this season – games in which he recorded two points – but that shooting percentage hovering in the 14% range is a little high in comparison to his career average.

Sustainability of a 130 point pace is dubious at best.

 

Nazem Kadri 2021-22 Quarterly Split

 

Fortunately for the London, Ontario native, he’s surrounding by some incredible top end talent in Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landsekog and Mikko Rantanen, but the Avalanche have also built in the middle tier, with the likes of a solid J.T Compher and adding Andre Burakovsky and Valeri Nichushkin, his most common linemates.

The ex-Leaf has always shown scoring prowess in addition to balancing that thin line between physicality and pure aggressiveness. While the suspensions may be seem to stand out in the spotlight, it overshadows a tenacity that has made him a formidable player with a skill for drawing penalties, usually floating atop of the rankings in penalties drawn per 60 – data provided by Natural Stattrick.

Moved to the Colorado Avalanche following consecutive seasons of playoff suspensions, removing himself from the lineup at the most crucial times the Leafs needed him.

Kadri with a significant rap sheet, has been in trouble throughout his NHL career, with fines and suspensions dating back to 2010, but the Leafs felt they needed to end his tenure in blue and white silks after being shown the lack of reliance.

Kadri’s next contract – whoever ends up signing him – may be a bit of an overpay as he’s rewarded for this particular season, but he’s still a multipurpose forward that has a lot to offer contending teams.

Gus Katsaros
Gus Katsaros is the Pro Scouting Coordinator with McKeen’s Hockey, publishers of industry leading scouting and fantasy guide, the McKeen’s Annual Hockey Pool Yearbook. He also contributes to popular blog MapleLeafsHotStove.com ... he can be followed on Twitter @KatsHockey