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'I COULDN'T BE MORE EXCITED'

Kadri talks about thrill of joining Flames

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

Nazem Kadri is the ultimate competitor. 

Hard-nosed and feisty as they come.

Nothing drives a player such as this, like a taste of a championship - and after living the dream only a few months ago, that insatiable thirst has him pining for more. 

And he saw no better fit than here, as the newest member of the Flames. 

"It's addicting," Kadri said in conversation with Flames TV's Natasha Staniszewski. "Really. You want to get back there and, obviously, that was pretty high on my list … going to a competitive team I think could make some noise right away.

"That's Calgary for me."

 

Video: "I think our centre combos can match up with anybody"

 

Kadri, who won it all as a member of the Colorado Avalanche this past June, cemented his playoff legacy with a second-round hat-trick, followed by the overtime-winning goal in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. It was his first game back after thumb surgery, and despite playing with a splint and modified glove on his battered right hand, he showed the world what a gamer he is.

It was all part of a breakout season for the London, Ont., native. In 71 regular-season games, he set a career high with 87 points (28G, 59A) to finish third in team scoring. He added another seven goals and 15 points in 16 playoff games, and was a constant thorn in the side of his opponents. 

Now, he's a Flame, arriving in the Stampede City on a seven-year pact that will pay him $7M annually through the 2028-29 season. 

"I think we're close," Kadri said of the Flames' championship hopes. "That's ultimately what you want, playing in the playoffs and playing in those big-moment games. Having won already, it gives you an insight into the pinnacle of where you're supposed to be."

It was clear, Kadri said, from the earliest phone call how dedicated GM Brad Treliving and owner and Chairman Murray Edwards are to winning. Certainly, they were dealt a tough hand in July, when two-thirds of the Flames' top line left, but the team's ability to not only re-tool, but add high-calibre talent on the fly is a testament to their unwavering commitment. 

Gone are Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Erik Gudbranson. In, arrives a dual threat like Kadri - who plays the game on the edge, one of the NHL's best passers in Jonathan Huberdeau, and a criminally underrated, puck-moving blueliner on the rise in MacKenzie Weegar. 

"Those guys are great players and not only them, but a lot of other guys on the team as well," he said of what appealed to him most about this Flames team. "I think our centre combos can match up with anybody. We obviously have great depth on defence, exceptional talent in goal, so I think all those are key factors in having a successful team and I am thankful I get to be part of that."

Kadri said he checked in with a number of current and past Flames players, including his former Toronto Maple Leafs teammate Dion Phaneuf for intel on the city and organization. 

All he heard were glowing reviews, across the board. 

"I couldn't be more excited, really," he said. "I love the city of Calgary; I've been visiting there for years. I like the direction of the team and the moves we've made thus far, and I think it's been a great rebound. 

"I've always appreciated the Calgary Flames fanbase, so all those played a key contributor in me making my decision.

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