Elias Lindholm isn’t signed – yet.
But the Flames are working towards locking down one of their biggest offseason acquisitions, with rumour having it he may get a five- or six-year deal, with an annual average value of around $5 million.
The Calgary Flames appear to be closing in on an extension with RFA, Elias Lindholm. Details being worked on but expectation is 5 or 6 years at around $5M per.
— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) July 13, 2018
Lindholm’s arbitration date isn’t until Aug. 1, the last of the five Flames to file for arbitration, but he’s the highest profile of the lot, with the most NHL experience and an anticipated top six role, so focusing on a deal for him sooner rather than later makes sense.
Only four Flames forwards currently have cap hits over $5 million: Mikael Backlund ($5.35 million), James Neal ($5.75 million), Sean Monahan ($6.375 million), and Johnny Gaudreau ($6.75 million). Monahan and Gaudreau’s signings were both their second contracts, signed as restricted free agents and carrying them through to unrestricted free agency.
Lindholm, meanwhile, will be signed as an RFA, but this will be his third contract. He already has five years of NHL experience, but has never scored at a level as elite as Monahan and Gaudreau.
So, the question arises: is Lindholm worth a $5 million cap hit?
Here are 15 forwards, all of whom were signed as RFAs, with cap hits ranging from $4.9-$5.5 million, and their stats in their respective contract years.
|Player||Cap hit||Term||Points||5v5 CF%||OZS%|
|Jonathan Drouin||$5.5 million||6 years||53||52.07||57.12|
|Bo Horvat||$5.5 million||6 years||52||47.55||46.47|
|Jaden Schwartz||$5.35 million||5 years||22||54.02||62.99|
|Mika Zibanejad||$5.35 million||5 years||37||49.30||52.46|
|Tomas Tatar||$5.3 million||4 years||46||50.84||52.29|
|Ondrej Palat||$5.3 million||5 years||52||52.71||56.11|
|Jeff Carter||$5.273 million||11 years*||66||51.27||43.72|
|JT Miller||$5.25 million||5 years||58||NYR: 46.16
|Nino Niederreiter||$5.25 million||5 years||57||55.41||52.40|
|Brayden Schenn||$5.125 million||4 years||59||50.30||52.29|
|Reilly Smith||$5 million||5 years||37||52.47||47.82|
|Derick Brassard||$5 million||5 years||45||53.54||60.16|
|Alex Galchenyuk||$4.9 million||3 years||44||50.06||66.38|
|Alexander Wennberg||$4.9 million||6 years||59||51.18||60.74|
*Note that 11-year deals are no longer possible under the current CBA.
Most of these deals were signed in the past couple of years, so percentage of cap isn’t a particularly big factor. Most players played full seasons as well; Schwartz, the lone exception, was a .67 point per game player in his 33-game contract year. Zibanejad was a .66 point per game player in his.
There’s a common theme to be found: all guys are pretty decent players, typically ranging from 40-60 points, mostly with 5v5 CFs over 50%, with corresponding offensive zone start ratios over 50%. Lindholm matches the criteria to a tee, though his point production is on the lower end of things: while he’s been consistent in his scoring, he’s never broken the 50-point barrier, unlike most of his comparables.
So all in all? A cap hit around $5 million is probably a fair deal for Lindholm, based on the market the league has set. Signing him to a five- or six-year deal fits in with everyone else, as well.
But he should probably be on the lower scale of the $5-million group, if only because he hasn’t yet had a truly breakout offensive season. Maybe that’s due to the general lack of high scoring the Hurricanes have had to offer, maybe that’s because of his own ceiling – but we won’t know that for a few seasons yet, in all likelihood.
In the meantime, no sense in getting burned by the unknown – though Lindholm will probably be worth the deal he gets.
Founded in 1950, Sports Excellence Corporation represents over 150 family-owned independent hockey retailers across Canada and the United States. Our highly knowledgeable hockey specialists are available to assist all your equipment needs. Find your closest Sports Excellence retailer here: Find a location near you!