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2023-24 Calgary Flames predictions: Nazem Kadri reaches the 25-goal, 65-point mark
6 months ago
In my first predictions article, I wrote about two players who were the highlights of under-performance talk around the NHL in 2022-23: Jonathan Huberdeau and Jacob Markstrom. In this piece, I want to look at another player who didn’t have as much of a down year as some might have thought, given the dialogue around him, but is still a player that is as important as anyone to the Calgary Flames’ roster: Nazem Kadri.
Prediction: Nazem Kadri reaches the 25-goal, 65-point mark again
There are two different pieces of this prediction that I think require different discussions simply because of the type of player that Kadri is.
Last season, Kadri played all 82 games for the Flames, and if he can stay healthy over the course of the 2023-24 season as well, the likelihood of him getting back to this is (obviously) higher. But I think the point to make from last season is that he did almost hit these two marks. He scored 24 goals and 56 points, which are the fourth and third-highest totals in those specific categories in his career, respectively. So, even though he might not have had a superb year in other areas, it’s not as if he hasn’t gotten close to that mark in a Flames uniform.
The goals part of this prediction will likely be the easiest part for Kadri to achieve from my point of view as the person making the prediction. He has hit 25 goals three times in his career (32 in both 2016-17 and 2017-18 with the Toronto Maple Leafs and 28 in 2021-22 with the Colorado Avalanche). He has also hit 20 goals five times in his career, and last season when he scored 24, he had one of the lowest shooting percentages of his entire career at just nine percent (two percent below his career average of 11). Even though it may not bounce back all the way up to 11 percent, even just a one percent increase would make all the difference in crossing that 25-goal plateau again.
As for the 65 points, that is where things get a little more tricky. Kadri has only scored 65 points or more once in his NHL career, and that was in Colorado where he scored 87. As I pointed out, last season he only missed the mark by nine points, and there is a part of the game where he needs to increase his assist production, and he can get there: the power play.
In 2016-17, Kadri made it to 61 points in 82 games. In 2022-23, he made it to 56 points in 82 games. What’s the common denominator here? His power-play production. He had 24 even-strength assists in both seasons. But with the man advantage, he only had five in 2016-17 and eight in 2022-23.
The single-digit power-play assists are costing him valuable numbers in the total points category. Obviously, it’s easier said than done, especially when your power play is running at the 19th-best efficiency rate in the league. However, if there are any improvements to be made to the Flames, the ability to score on the power play should be a big one, and Kadri being able to benefit from that would more than certainly help his case to get back over the 65 point mark for only the second time in his career.
If Kadri can get his shooting percentage just a tick higher and help the Flames’ special teams be more efficient, there is no doubt in my mind that he can hit these two benchmarks for next season. With a new system and new coaching staff, there is lots of opportunity available for him to control his destiny and how he performs next year. Time will tell, but Calgary needs him back, and this would be a great way to prove that he is.
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