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Vancouver Canucks Target Elias Lindholm – Four Potential Trades Based on Precedent



Elias Lindholm - Mikael Backlund

Is there any more loaded of a concept than sending Calgary’s biggest trade piece in Elias Lindholm to a divisional rival? 

Despite the loaded nature of the idea, Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman turned heads over the weekend during Hockey Day in Canada’s edition of Saturday Headlines with this crucial bit of intel on the Vancouver Canucks: 

“The other thing that the fans are also going to be wondering about is… what they do at the deadline, and there’s no question that they are looking hard at a top-six forward; somebody preferably with flexibility.  

And you know, the word is they’re looking at about four or five different players. I think one is [Jake] Guentzel, I think another is [Elias] Lindholm from Calgary, but there’s more. And it’s our job to try to figure out who they are. But there’s no doubt a top-six forward is number one on Vancouver’s radar.“  

The first thing to ask is, what message is being sent by releasing this information to the public?  

Did the Canucks intentionally drop this info to stir up inquiries from general managers around the NHL? Did they give this info to Friedman at all, or did he simply find out and report it?  

The nature of last week’s Saturday Headlines implies that Friedman has been helping NHL teams market their players, at least to some extent.

Both in his Saturday Headlines segment as well as a January 15 episode of 32 Thoughts: The Podcast, Elliotte went hard into the notion that Jacob Markstrom hadn’t been asked, but if the Flames were to ask for the 33-year-old number one goaltender to waive his no movement clause – it would require a big offer to get the wheels in motion.   

“No. 1, I don’t believe they’ve gone to him with anything, as in any possibility of what could happen,” Friedman said. “No.2, he has a No-Move Clause. As Kelly Hrudey always argues, no one with a no-move clause should even be asked if they can be traded. From what I understand, Calgary has a very high bar here in terms of they’re not going to bother Markstrom with just anything. It would have to be something massive for them or somewhere they absolutely believe Markstrom would want to go before they would even consider going to him. I think that’s where things stand with Markstrom, the Flames, and anything right now.” 

Come on.  

The likelihood of those reports being a media plant is a bit high. What about this week’s segment? Let’s look at some similarities between the two teams rumored to be talking to the Canucks. 

Outside Looking In 

Both Calgary and Pittsburgh find themselves steadily losing ground in their respective Wildcard races.  

In the Flames’ case, a dogpile might best describe the Western Conference’s Wildcard situation. The Kings, Predators, Coyotes, Kraken, Flames, Blues, and Wild, are all within seven points of each other and have only two Wildcard spots to occupy. The seven teams vary from 43 to 46 games played.  

Calgary is four points behind the closest Wildcard placeholder, the Nashville Predators. As of January 22, the Coyotes sit tied with the Flames at 47 points but hold two games in hand.  

In other words, the odds of the Calgary Flames making the playoffs in 2024 are not great.  

On the other hand, the Pittsburgh Penguins need to catch up in games played with their conference contenders. They have 48 points on the season and have played two or three fewer games than Detroit, Tampa Bay, and the Islanders, teams that occupy the top of the Eastern Conference Wildcard race. If they were to win their next four games, the group would find themselves back in the playoff picture with 51-53 points.  

With that said, going on a moderate tailspin would likely spell the end for Pittsburgh. The team has four teams to vault to get into the nearest Wildcard spot: Tampa with 53 points. 

You may have identified the common denominator here. Both teams are loaded with veterans and find themselves close to dropping out of the playoff race.  

We also have two potential names. Elias Lindholm and Jake Guentzel.  

It is important to note that it may be that the Canucks are less serious about one of the two and are merely pointing out to the rest of the league that they have options. After all, it’s one thing to publicly say, “We’re going to go get a top-six forward this season.”

It’s entirely another to say, “We’re going to go get a top-six forward, and we only want Elias Lindholm.”  

Canucks GM Patrik Allvin certainly knows enough about leverage to not show his hand like that.

Imagine walking into a car dealership and telling the salesman, “I’ve let my family know that I’m buying this one type of car from only this outlet. They’re beyond excited to see it pull into the driveway later today.”  

Goodbye, college fund.  

Elias Lindholm 

Of the two disclosed players, Lindholm, 29, represents the more two-way option. Lindholm leads the Flames forward group in ice time per game at 20:46, penalty kill time per game at 2:23, and ranks second in powerplay time per game with 3:22. Only Nazem Kadri plays more powerplay with 3:23 per game—a negligible difference.  

So, you have an all-situations forward who is faster than league average, can throw big hits, and has 40-goal potential given the right linemates. His annual cap hit of $4,850,000 is low enough to make a trade viable with retention for most contenders.  

In terms of offence this season, Lindholm’s numbers aren’t mind-blowing. The 6-foot-1 pivot ranks fourth in scoring on the Flames with eight goals and 22 assists in 30 games. His current forward unit looks good at times, but the underlying numbers don’t exactly scream out chemistry.  

The line of Huberdeau-Lindholm-Sharangovich has been outscored 5-10 at even strength this season for a 33.3% differential. Swap Huberdeau for Mangiapane and the unit has gone 7-8 at even strength.  

Therein lies the issue with trading Lindholm this season.  

Head Coach Ryan Huska has done some digging to find the right combination for Elias Lindholm, but so far the offence from Elias’ units has been underwhelming.

There simply isn’t much to work with when Backlund and Coleman only have room for a left winger on their line, and Zary-Kadri-Pospisil have been reliably dominant together.  

A possible redeeming factor is that Lindholm brings a significant faceoff presence.  

The Flames center sits third in the NHL in faceoffs won with 515. Only Sidney Crosby and Vincent Trochek have won more. Sitting directly below Lindholm is Canucks center JT Miller with 488. The idea of having the righthanded Lindholm (55.92%) or lefthanded Miller (54.16) available to match up for a faceoff during the playoffs must be enticing to Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet. 

Of the two players listed, it sounds like Lindholm remains the primary target. Friedman followed up on his Saturday Headlines segment on Monday’s 32 Thoughts: the Podcast. 

“I think they’ve got a couple of guys they’re looking at and I heard one of the key things they’re thinking about is versatility. So, you’ve got to figure out who these guys are.” 

Regarding versatility, Lindholm sits at the top of the list of available pending unrestricted free agents.  

Jake Guentzel 

Guentzel doesn’t win faceoffs like Lindholm. The 29-year-old out of Omaha, Nebraska, has won only four of his 12 attempts in 2023-2024. While Jake may lack in that area, the five-foot-ten forward certainly has fewer issues filling the back of the net.  

The 2013 third round draft selection has 20 goals and 27 assists in 43 games this season. His combination of solid playmaking skills (Jake leads the Penguins with 20 first assists) and lightning-fast release has Guentzel tied for team lead in scoring with Sidney Crosby. 

Guentzel’s annual cap hit of $6,000,000 makes deals a little tougher to approach than Lindholm for inquiring teams, but certainly not impossible. More in the way is that the Penguins are built to win for the next few seasons, with Malkin, Crosby, Letang, Karlsson and Rust all signed into next year. Trading their most productive winger would leave a significant hole in next season’s lineup.  

The Potential Return 

While it’s fun to look at the Canuck’s prospect rankings and start from the top down, we have some intel that may point more towards a creative solution.  

Jeff Marek inquired on Monday’s 32 Thoughts: The Podcast about what kind of return the Canucks may be offering. Friedman made it clear that the organization hadn’t told him directly, but the league has a general idea of what is on the table. 

Marek: “How all-in?” 

Friedman: “I think they’re “all-in”, I don’t think, again, they haven’t told me this. I’ve heard this from other teams. I don’t think they want to trade those young guys. Like the Willanders and the Lekkerimäkis, like, those are not the guys they want to trade. Now, if you’re trading for a good player with term, that’s when you start getting into those kinds of conversations, but I’ve heard those are not the guys they want to trade. Especially for a rental. They’re not doing that.”

“I think they’re willing to do the first rounder, but I don’t get the sense as we tape this of this podcast, late Sunday night-Monday morning, that there is willingness to do some of their top prospects.” 

First off, it’s certainly interesting that Friedman points out that this info isn’t coming from the Canucks organization. The Sportsnet analyst didn’t go out of his way to say that about his Saturday Headlines drop. 

So, the Canucks allegedly want the best player on the 2023-2024 trade board but don’t want to pony up a prospect that they’ve burned a season to attain. At least, not unless the player is extended.  

That sounds like every other competitor on the market, but let’s bite. What might a Lindholm acquisition look like for the Vancouver Canucks? Here are four potential trades that factor past precedent as well as Calgary’s team needs into the equation. 


Four Potential Offers for Elias Lindholm 

The Bo Horvat

Allvin doesn’t have to look far to determine the current market rate for a first line center.

The Canucks received a top-12 protected first round pick in 2023, former second round pick Aatu Raty, and Anthony Beauvillier in return for All Star center Bo Horvat late in January of last season. Let’s use that model to build an offer.  

To the Vancouver Canucks 

Elias Lindholm (25% retained) 

To the Calgary Flames 

Top-10 protected 2024 first round pick 

Andrei Kuzmenko 


Vancouver fans may bristle at the addition of Andrei Kuzmenko to a trade, but the fact of the matter is that “Kuz” is falling out of favor among the Canucks executive group. President of hockey ops Jim Rutherford recently had this to say during an availability with the media on Kuzmenko’s status in the organization:  

“He’s lost his confidence. He’s a good player and he can score and there’s no doubt in my mind, whether it’s in Vancouver or in another NHL city, he will score.” 

With a roster at capacity and a projected $332,500 in cap space, unless there is some Maple Leafs-style circumvention, a contract will likely head back to Calgary in a deal. It’s important to point out that the first round pick that the Islanders sent to Vancouver was ultimately far more valuable than the late first (in a weaker projected draft than 2023) that Allvin can offer. 

Calgary gets a player only one season distanced from a 39-goal campaign who is signed for two more seasons at $5,500,000 per year. While that statistic was primarily due to an unsustainably high shooting percentage (27.3%) and riding shotgun with the immensely talented Elias Pettersson, Kuzmenko certainly has the tools to rebound from his current eight-goal, 11-assist campaign.   

Kuzmenko walking into free agency at the end of next season also offers some trade potential. Conroy inked Yegor Sharangovich to a similar deal this summer – a two-year walk to free agency at $3,000,000 per.  

The potential to deal off both players after feeding them a season of power play time may provide invaluable benefits to the Flames organization down the road.  

Let’s drop precedent momentarily and go for something Flames general manager Craig Conroy may favor. 


The Younger NHL Player 

Conroy has been firm this season in that any maneuvering would not be a full on rebuild. Per a recent interview with Eric Duhatschek of the Athletic: 

“I know some people believe in the full rebuild. Personally, I feel you want to be competitive, and you want your team to win. So, there is a balance between short- and long-term.” 

To the Vancouver Canucks 

Elias Lindholm retained at 50% 

To the Calgary Flames 

Nils Hoglander 

Vasily Podkolzin 


Canucks fans have been reluctant to entertain the idea of trading the 23-year-old Hoglander this season. With 14 goals and six assists in 44 games, the 5-foot-9 left-shot winger packs a punch in terms of production per dollar. The 40th overall pick in 2019 has one season after this one on a contract that pays him $1,100,000.  

Podkolzin is in a bit of a different situation.  

Following playing a nearly-entire, 79-game NHL season in 2020-2021, the 10th overall pick has been spinning his tires since being sent down to the AHL Abbotsford Canucks in late March of 2023. The 22-year-old has seen his production remain consistently around 0.6 points per game over two half-seasons.  

It’s a bitter pill to swallow shipping out a recent top-10 pick, but now may be the best time to move the bulldozing 6-foot-1 winger. Podkolzin currently sits seventh in scoring on Abbottsford with ten goals and ten assists in 30 games.  

This offer may come down to the opinion of Calgary Wranglers head coach Trent Cull, who coached both Hoglander and Podkolzin in Abbotsford prior to joining the Flames organization during the 2023 offseason.  


The Ryan O’Reilly 

Blues star center Ryan O’Reilly was dealt to Toronto on Feb. 17, 2023, along with gritty forward Noel Acciari in a three-team trade that saw St. Louis pick up prospect Mikhail Abramov, AHL forward Adam Gaudette, Toronto’s first-round pick in 2023, Ottawa’s third-round pick in 2023 and Toronto’s second-round pick in 2024.  

Minnesota general manager Bill Guerin capacitated the trade by taking on a secondary 25% retention on O’Reilly’s contract in exchange for a 2025 fourth round pick and prospect and former Wild fourth round draft pick, Josh Pillar.  

Per Sportsnet, here is the breakdown of O’Reilly’s cap retention. 

  • St. Louis retains 50% ($3.75M)  
  • Minnesota retains 50% of the $3.75M ($1.875M)  
  • O’Reilly joins Maple Leafs with a cap hit of $1.875M

One interesting aspect is that we get the most recent market rate on cap retention: a fourth round pick and a lower end prospect. This one is a tough formula, given the sheer scale of this transaction, but let’s give it a try. 

To the Vancouver Canucks 

Elias Lindholm 50% retained 

AJ Greer 

To the Calgary Flames 

Top-10 protected 2024 first round pick 

2024 third round pick 

2025 second round pick 

Jett Woo 

To the Minnesota Wild 

New Jersey’s fourth round pick (from Vancouver) 

25% of Lindholm’s cap hit 

Chase Wouters 


The tricky aspect of retention is knowing which team’s ownership is willing to go there.  

Calgary, for instance, has only retained the salary of one of their players in a trade once. That being sending goaltender David Rittich to Toronto at 50% in exchange for a 2022 third round pick – that pick was later sent to Chicago for Nikita Zadorov.  

The safe bet for a third party team is Minnesota given that they already bought a pick last season and project to have $3,902,500 in cap space at the deadline.  

AJ Greer, although five years younger than Acciari, would play a similar role down the lineup to Acciari. The 6-foot-3 winger projects for an 11-goal season despite playing a mere 8:49 a night. His willingness to drop the gloves may also be useful in the playoffs.  

The impact of this transaction is fun to talk about, but the return to Calgary doesn’t seem to align with what Conroy is looking for. Let’s go for one more that genuinely falls into Craig Conroy’s ideal win-win territory.  


The Goldilocks 

To the Vancouver Canucks 

Elias Lindholm retained at 50%  

AJ Greer 

To the Calgary Flames 

2024 first round pick 

2024 third round pick 

Connor Garland 

Nils Hoglander 


Connor Garland has progressively worked his asset value this season towards being worthy of his $4,950,000 cap hit for the next two and a half seasons. Currently on a 14-goal, 43-point pace over 82 games, the Canucks may simply elect to keep his cap hit and navigate the cap with him on board. 

Unfortunately for the organization, Elias Pettersson and Filip Hronek will be backing up the money truck for RFA extensions this offseason. Four of their top seven defencemen are set to become unrestricted free agents this summer, and Patrik Allvin will be in tough to keep most of them if the Canucks do damage in the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs. 

Not only does Craig Conroy help to solve Allvin’s long term cap problems, he also gives them one of the most versatile forwards in the NHL for a playoff run. In return, he gets a burgeoning NHL player, a first round pick, a third round pick, and an ultra-competitive winger in Garland that can help balance out the disparity of right-shot forwards on the Flames roster. Further down the road, the prospect of shipping out Garland as a rental can be examined.  

Looking Onward

Forty-six days remain until general manager Craig Conroy experiences his first trade deadline in his new role. Despite his lack of experience as a triggerman for an NHL organization, the 52-year-old may have the most challenging task of all in managing the potential departures of Chris Tanev, Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, and, to a lesser extent, AJ Greer.

Tack on to it that Conroy needs to keep the rebuild-hungry spectrum of the fanbase happy while at the same time remaining competitive and things look rough for the rookie GM.

Chances are that Conroy won’t be able to trade all of them within 24 hours on March 8, 2024. The question then becomes: When will the next move drop? Who will it involve? The next month and a half has the potential to define the future of the organization in ways that are both exciting and terrifying.

Buckle up, Flames fans.