It’s no secret the Calgary Flames have been a below-average hockey group for the reason that departures of Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau. The hope was that Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri would assist them to proceed having the success they skilled in 2021-22, however as followers know, that has been removed from the case.
Making issues worse for the Flames is that since Tkachuk and Gaudreau left, many others have seen a decline in play. Jacob Markstrom has been higher this season, however remains to be removed from the Vezina-calibre goaltender he was in 2021-22. Andrew Mangiapane hasn’t been the identical offensive menace, both. That mentioned, maybe the largest and most stunning downfall of all has been Elias Lindholm’s.
Lindholm No Longer a Quantity One Centre
For years with Tkachuk and Gaudreau on the Flames, Lindholm was seen by many Flames followers as arguably essentially the most underrated centreman within the NHL. His playmaking talents have been subsequent degree, and as confirmed by his 42 objectives in 2021-22, he was a wonderful finisher as effectively.
What additionally made Lindholm so precious and seemingly so underrated was that his sport was removed from one-dimensional. The 28-year-old has been sound defensively all through his whole profession, and was acknowledged for such in 2021-22, ending second in Selke Trophy voting to solely the Boston Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron.
Sadly, when it got here to the offensive aspect of issues, it appears Lindholm’s success might have been largely attributable to his two highly-talented teammates. His 22 objectives and 64 factors have been disappointing, however really appeared comparatively stable on condition that he wasn’t all that noticeable for the Flames final season. He appeared misplaced at instances with out Gaudreau and Tkachuk by his aspect and didn’t have the kind of influence first-line centres within the NHL do.
Any hopes of final season being a one off for Lindholm are rapidly fading, as he has been even worse within the early a part of 2023-24. Regardless of a current three-point effort versus the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, he was as soon as once more a no present in Saturday’s loss to the New York Islanders. By means of 17 video games, he has simply three objectives and 12 factors, and has been unnoticeable for big chunks of video games. It’s gotten to the purpose the place you actually do have to contemplate that he might merely not be nearly as good of a participant as followers had come to imagine in seasons prior.
Flames Fortunate to Have Averted Lindholm Extension
Not lengthy earlier than the 2023-24 season obtained underway, there have been experiences from a number of insiders that the Flames have been closing in on an extension with Lindholm. Elliotte Friedman reported that the deal was anticipated to be a long-term one, with the cap hit coming in round $9 million. Many Flames followers expressed hesitancy on the time, and ought to be counting their fortunate stars that the deal wasn’t signed.
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Lindholm is a greater participant than he has proven this season, however he hasn’t seemed like a $9-million one in a while. In all honesty, it’s exhausting to say he’s even residing as much as his $4.85 million cap hit in 2023-24. That may change, after all, however him ever turning into a participant deserving of $9 million once more appears not possible with out Tkachuk and Gaudreau by his aspect.
Lack of Manufacturing May Damage Lindholm’s Commerce Worth
What is absolutely unlucky for the Flames proper now could be that Lindholm ought to be a participant who brings in a giant return on a commerce. Based mostly on his physique of labor since arriving in Calgary, it ought to be cheap to anticipate a first-round decide and a prospect for him on the deadline. Nevertheless, different common managers across the league have actually taken discover of how he has carried out within the absence of Tkachuk and Gaudreau, which might outcome within the Flames having to accept far lower than they may have ever imagined.