Elias Lindholm was hesitant when asked whether he was open to a contract extension with the Calgary Flames. After all that has happened over the past year, I don’t blame him. He lost his two elite linemates, likely got tired of Darryl Sutter’s antics as head coach, and the team missed the playoffs, looking like they’re heading in the wrong direction. Now it seems as though the offseason change that occurred was a switch in general managers, not in coaching.
With somewhat limited cap space to add big pieces in the offseason to help out Lindholm on the top line and the team in general, we’ll see the direction the team chooses to go. We already know he is in line for a big raise on his next contract and would get a lot of interest in the trade market and free agency in 2024. Could the Flames anticipate Lindholm won’t re-sign and trade him this offseason? If they do, here are three teams that will have an interest in and a need for him for the final year of his contract.
The Colorado Avalanche will remain a top team in the NHL for years, but as they are at the very top of their game right now, they should continue to be all-in every year. That wasn’t the case this season, as they did very little to address needs at the trade deadline. As they needed a second-line centre, all they acquired was Lars Eller down the middle.
J.T. Compher is set to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) in the summer, likely in line for a raise, and wasn’t the clear-cut second-line centre all season even though the team eventually landed on him in that role. Lindholm’s cap hit isn’t much higher than Compher’s this season and is a big upgrade at both ends of the ice. Lindholm is not only a former Selke Trophy finalist and great two-way player, he is without a doubt a top-line/top-six centerman who could seamlessly even fill in next season if, and more likely when, Nathan MacKinnon misses games.
Lindholm would be a short-term commitment for the Avalanche and push them to the top, once again. Sam Girard could be involved as part of a package, since his time in Colorado is likely ending due to a lack of space. That would help shore up the defence as the speedy puck-moving defenceman is under contract for four more years.