Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri wanted to put an end to what often was contentious contract talk between himself and the team, and he got that wish late Tuesday when the sides agreed to a two-year contract for a reported $5.8 million. The deal allowed Kadri to be on-hand when the Maple Leafs opened training camp Wednesday.
The contract allows Kadri to show that his breakout 2012-13 season was just the start of him emerging as an NHL star. He was second on the Maple Leafs last season with 18 goals and 44 points. He'll have more time to negotiate a longer-term, bigger-money contract in the future, but knew now was time to get back to work.
"The deal is fair for both sides," Kadri told reporters. "It was more difficult than I thought. I'm very relieved I have a contract. It feels good. Just in time.
"I'm just glad to get the deal done and to be back with the guys and back with the organization. At the end of the day, this was the only place that I wanted to play. We made sure we made that happen."
Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis also is happy to have the Kadri situation behind him.
"We understood Naz's position and he understood ours," Nonis told reporters. "To Naz's credit he wanted to play."
In 99 NHL games, Kadri, the seventh pick of the 2009 NHL Draft, has 26 goals and 37 assists.
"I've been trying to prove myself the day I got here," Kadri said. "Nothing really changes for me. I'm still going to play with that chip on my shoulder. I did everything I could this summer to prepare for this exact moment and I'm glad I did so. I don't think it's going to make the chip any bigger. Realistically, you have to play with a chip regardless. Obviously it did drag on a little longer than I wanted it to, and I'm assuming a little longer than they wanted it to as well. But at the end of the day the deal is done and we can focus on more important things."
The Kadri signing means the Maple Leafs have one restricted free agent to settle with. Defenseman Cody Franson, who led the team's defensemen with 29 points in 45 games last season, remains without a contract.
"We've made him an offer we were hoping he would take. He declined," Nonis said. "The one fortunate thing is we have a lot of defensemen here."