After John Klingberg signed with Anaheim on a one-year deal, it took a name off that had been linked with the Detroit Red Wings.
Never mind that general manager Steve Yzerman said that he was done with free agency. It didn’t stop the association with the former Dallas Stars defenseman.
“We got a lot of players right now,” he said following his signings two weeks ago. “I don’t know that I would look to do anything more in free agency. I don’t have a blockbuster in the works or anything like that.”
For this version of two truths and a lie, we’ll look at Nazem Kadri, who has been written about often lately with many of these writers listing Detroit as a possible destination.
Anyone else think Nazem Kadri agreed on a handshake contract at least a week ago and is just waiting on Team X to clear cap space?
I can't imagine a UFA of this magnitude is actually still undecided, two weeks into free agency.
— Matt Larkin (@MLarkinHockey) July 27, 2022
Truth: Yzerman is on the Record Saying He’s Done Signing Free Agents
The Red Wings general manager joked in the past that so many analysts, fans, and pundits think he always has an ulterior motive when making deals.
If you look at his work in Detroit and Tampa, he’s been consistent with his comments.
— NHL (@NHL) July 22, 2022
Here’s what he said two weeks ago:
“I wouldn’t want to sign another significant free agent and put myself in position where I have to trade somebody for whatever reason because that’s not a good time to do it.
“But I’m always looking at ways to try to get better.”
It already looks like new coach Derek Lalonde and Yzerman will be playing roster Tetris with who fits and who doesn’t. Filip Zadina is still unsigned as well as Jake Walman. Beyond that, where will Joe Veleno fit in? And then there’s players pushing onto the roster, trying to be this season’s Lucas Raymond or Moritz Seider.
Adding Kadri would only confound things more for Yzerman and Detroit.
Truth: Kadri Would Put the Red Wings in a Playoff Push
Adding a player of Kadri’s stature would definitely strengthen Detroit down the middle. So much so, it would actually give the Red Wings quite a bit of depth on three lines. Technically, they could move Andrew Copp to the wing to create a pretty dynamic second or even first line. Or going further, Copp could center a third line, but that seems less likely.
Regardless of what would work, Kadri would come in after an 87-point regular season (28-59) and then being nearly a point-per-game guy in 16 playoff contests (7-8-15). Kadri plays hard and embodies the Yzerman-type work ethic that he’s instilling in his roster. In fact, Sportsnet’s Sonny Sachdeva argues that the Red Wings would “covet” a guy like him just based on how Yzerman’s long time friend Darren Pang describes the GM’s roster building.
Again, there’s the issue of having to make some tough decisions with guys already in the organization. But if Yzerman is looking to truly put Detroit in its best spot in the last six seasons, signing Kadri would certainly do the trick.
Lie: The Avalanche Would Have Already Signed Him if He Was a Priority
Speaking of another team playing roster Tetris. The defending champs don’t have a lot of room and will certainly have to jettison someone in order to squeeze Kadri in under the cap. Kadri will have to take a little less than what the open market could get him. But if a contending team is really a prerequisite, why wouldn’t he just stay put for a little less?
All it takes is a few million. As ESPN’s Greg Wyshinski writes, how much is winning worth to Kadri? If the 31-year-old forward is looking to win another Cup, Colorado seems a safe bet. For those linking him to Detroit, there isn’t a sure bet that his presence would catapult Detroit over the top. Yes, the Red Wings would be better, but they’re fighting off a lot of competition not only in their division, but in the conference.
The Avalanche still feel like the logical choice. It just may make some time and finagling to get both sides to an agreement.