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An Elias Lindholm trade between Calgary and Boston may not be likely, but it could work
6 months ago
The decision from Elias Lindholm on whether or not he wants to remain with the Calgary Flames for the foreseeable future is still up in the air, and as everyone around Flames Nation (get it?) await the news, there’s plenty of speculation about what could be done if Lindholm decides that Calgary is not what his heart desires.
One destination that could be a possible fit is the Boston Bruins. With Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci both announcing their retirement from the NHL, the 2022-23 Presidents’ Trophy winners are out their two top centres. Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle will be fielding the responsibilities in those roles if general manager Don Sweeney doesn’t find a solution.
Well, there could be one waiting in Calgary.
If the Flames and the Bruins are going to pull this off, there are going to be some serious salary cap questions. As of now, per CapFriendly, Boston only has $429,000 available, and the Flames don’t have any (they’re actually at -$219,000), which leaves everyone involved in a bind and makes this deal a whole lot harder to complete where everyone feels like they received fair compensation.
If the Flames are going to pull off this deal, it needs to happen before the season starts, and it requires a move to get rid of Noah Hanifin for a return that doesn’t infringe too much on the salary cap. If general manager Craig Conroy isn’t able to move Hanifin out in time, the likelihood of a Lindholm to Boston deal being possible feels almost impossible.
But, let’s say in a hypothetical world that Hanifin was moved out to the Carolina Hurricanes for a prospect (I used Noel Gunler since this part of the mock is arbitrary) and two draft picks. The Flames now have about $3.875 million in cap space to work with.
Now, to start on the exchange with Boston.
Reports have surfaced that if the Bruins and Flames are going to make this trade happen, Jake DeBrusk is likely going to be a piece going to the Flames in return. The Flames also reportedly don’t want much draft capital, if any at all, so that makes things more interesting.
In the Armchair-GM mode on CapFriendly, I executed the Hanifin trade and then immediately started working on the trade with Boston, which ended up looking like this:
2024 4th round pick (BOS)
Obviously, I want to preface all of this with the fact that I’m not going for accuracy on a trade prediction here. However, this was an exercise to see if the trade would even be possible, and sure enough, it is. With a deal like this (an NHL player, two prospects, and a pick for Lindholm), the Flames are able to stay under the salary cap (they sit at approximately $2.96 million of space after this move) while adding in a couple of young players and a forward that can help the team’s scoring outlook for next season. And, if he doesn’t work out in Calgary, DeBrusk will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Although it isn’t optimal that they don’t bring him back considering he would be the main piece of this deal, there isn’t tons of risk involved.
The Bruins don’t have a ton of value when it comes to young players in their system, which it sounds like Flames management is also looking for as a big part of this deal if it’s going to happen. The cap situation is what everyone is going to prioritize for this deal to go through, and when it comes to the overall likelihood that this deal gets done, it feels low. However, crazier things have happened, and a team like the Bruins, who have two players of the same superstar calibre, could be desperate to snag a true first-line centre with a two-way upside in order to keep those two players happy and in contention for the Stanley Cup.
So, do I think that Lindholm would be a solid fit in Boston and the Flames could find a way to maneuver around the slowly increasing salary cap while also factoring in the potential of a Lindholm extension would be huge for both sides. However, even though the deal in theory works, it still feels like the chance of anything happening between these two teams is slim to none.
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