The Toronto Maple Leafs have agreed to terms with center Nazem Kadri on a two-year, $5.8 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an annual average cap hit of $2.9 million, giving the Leafs roughly $2 million in cap space to re-sign defenseman Cody Franson, though he’s reportedly seeking $2 million per on a two-year deal.
Kadri really didn’t have any choice but to accept this “bridge contract”. If he staged a holdout he risked missing most, if not all, of pre-season, which could hamper his performance when he returned to action. He had no leverage coming off an entry-level contract, and with the decline in the salary cap, it was highly doubtful he’d receive an offer sheet from a rival team.
Kadri had a promising performance last season (44 points in 48 games), but that came during a lockout-shortened season, and his numbers tailed off down the stretch and into the playoffs.
He’ll now have to prove that he’s capable of bigger and better things over two 82-game seasons. If he does, he’ll be in better position to negotiate more lucrative terms for his next contract, when he’ll also have arbitration rights.