Veteran forward Nazem Kadri will don a burgundy and blue sweater with the Colorado Avalanche for the first time this fall when the 2019-20 season begins.
The Avs acquired the London, Ontario, native on Monday from the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that Kadri had spent his entire NHL career with.
"Colorado is an attractive place for me. I have played with [Nathan MacKinnon] in the World Championships years back for Team Canada, so I know him a little bit," Kadri said. "But I feel like the Avalanche are trending in a great direction, and I feel like we can be contenders for a long time. I know they are happy to have me, and I couldn't be happier to join."
Along with Kadri, Colorado acquired defenseman Calle Rosen and a third-round selection in the 2020 NHL Draft in exchange for defenseman Tyson Barrie, forward Alexander Kerfoot and a six-round pick in the 2020 draft.
Kadri, 28, was selected by Toronto in the first round of the 2009 draft as the seventh overall pick and has played 561 NHL games in his career, all with the Maple Leafs. During that time, he has recorded 357 points (161 goals, 196 assists) and has added 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 19 playoff contests.
Although leaving an organization that he has been a part of since he was 18 years old is difficult, the current path the Avalanche is on makes the transition more attractive.
"A lot of the guys from the team have actually reached out and given me a shout, which is always nice to welcome new players," said Kadri. "It shows a lot of class. I have spoken to (Colorado general manager) Joe (Sakic), he also had some very positive things to say. In all this positivity, it is obviously its tough to leave. It wasn't really my first choice, but at the end of the day the Colorado Avalanche are going to be contenders for many, many years to come with such a young team, such great players, and that makes this a lot easier for me."
Video: Nazem Kadri Introductory Conference Call
Last season, the 6-foot, 192-pound center notched 44 points (16 goals, 28 assists) in 73 contests. In each of the 2016-17 and 2017-18 campaigns, Kadri put up 32 goals and he aims to once again reach that 30-tally level and then some this upcoming season with his new club.
"Hitting the 30-goal mark back-to-back times, I think that is pretty tough to do in the NHL," he said. "I certainly have that potential… I feel like I have been having a great summer so far, and I am feeling really the best I really ever have. I have been working for redemption next season so like I said, I feel strong, I feel great. I strongly believe that my best years are yet to come, and I think Colorado will be a really nice next step for me."
Kadri is expected to play a role on Colorado's second line, possibly alongside third-year forward Tyson Jost and left wing Andre Burakovsky, who Colorado acquired in a deal with the Washington Capitals on Friday. The additions to the Avalanche were designed to help solidify and bolster Colorado's secondary scoring.
"We were obviously looking for a second-line center, and he's got two 30-goal seasons under his belt," Sakic said of adding Kadri to the Avalanche roster. "He plays with grit, he's signed for three more years… By making this trade, we added a lot of depth to our forward group to match up with the other forward groups around the league."
After spending the past decade with the team that drafted him and made his NHL dreams a reality, being traded isn't the easiest situation for Kadri, but the bright future in Colorado aids in the change of scenery.
Kadri and the rest of the Avs will work together toward the ultimate goal of accomplishing the next dream of winning the last game of the year and hoisting the Stanley Cup.
"I am a very competitive person, I don't like losing and winning makes everything a lot easier and a lot more fun," he said. "I have that feistiness and that competitive edge to me and that's really what keeps me motivated.
"I am looking forward because I definitely think this team has the chance to not only do it once, but multiple times hopefully in the future with the pieces that they have and the classy guys they seem to have in their organization. I am beyond thrilled, and I can't wait to get settled in."