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Elias Lindholm’s production dipped, but his consistent play continued in 2022-23

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Photo credit:© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Munnich
11 months ago
Elias Lindholm has been arguably the most consistent Calgary Flames forward since being acquired in a blockbuster trade at the 2018 NHL draft. And he has also been one of the most important players at both ends of the ice. That same narrative played itself out once again as Lindholm was one of the best forwards on the 2022-23 Flames.
Let’s take a closer look at his season.

The numbers

We all knew that it was going to be highly unlikely that Lindholm could produce at the same level as he did in the 2021-22 season when he played on a line with two of the best play makers in the NHL in Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk.
Because of the change in linemates, Lindholm’s production dropped from 42 goals, 40 assists in the 2021-22 season to 22 goals and 42 assists in the 2022-23 season.
A 20 goal drop off comes across as a steep decline, but when you take his linemates this season into consideration it makes sense. Tyler Toffoli and Dillon Dube are not known for their play making ability. Gaudreau and Tkachuk and an incredible understanding of where to find Lindholm in soft areas of coverage where he could get his lethal shot off. That wasn’t happening this year because of the lack of play making ability of his linemates.
Despite the drop off in goals, Lindholm still managed to be an effective player at both ends of the ice.
StatResult
Average Time on Ice18:39
CF%56.09%
SCF%54.09%
HDCF%52.75%
xGF%55.45%
GF-GA52-46
Faceoff Percentage55.70%
Lindholm is the definition of a complete hockey player. He can produce offence. He is responsible in his own end. He is on the first penalty kill and power play units. He wins faceoffs. He is hard to play against. He is an outstanding player, and the Flames organization is lucky to have him.

The eye test

This was Lindholm’s first season away from Gaudreau and you could tell that affected his game, mainly in the offensive zone. In the past, guys like Gaudreau and Tkachuk would do the heavy lifting on offence which allowed Lindholm to be able to focus on getting open in positions to score. Without Gaudreau and Tkachuk, Lindholm took on the added responsibility of driving his line at both ends of the ice. Because of that, he was not able to focus on getting open and using his high end shot to his advantage.
That is not a knock-on guys like Toffoli and Dube. They are good players. But they are not elite play makers who could tee up Lindholm to put pucks away like we’ve seen him do in his previous four seasons.
One thing that Lindholm deserves a ton of credit for was his ability to help elevate his linemates. Both Toffoli and Dube had career years thanks in large part to playing with Lindholm as their center for most of the season. Dube even mentioned in his yearend press conference with the media that he gives a lot of credit for his career season to playing with Lindholm.
In the other areas of the game, Lindholm looked like the same player. He was strong defensively in his own end with his coverage, he was a great penalty killer, and was competitive in all areas of the ice.

Highlights

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What’s next for Elias Lindholm?

Lindholm is entering the final year of his six-year contract he signed with the Flames back in 2018. There are three options that the Flames have.
1. Sign him this off-season to a long-term contract extension.
It’s going to take a lot of money to get Lindholm signed to an extension. The contract would be in the 8 year, $8.5M AVV range. If the mandate from ownership is to continue to make the playoffs every season, then it would be a great idea to get Lindholm signed. He is the best centre this organization has had since Joe Nieuwendyk.
2. Trade him before the 2024 trade deadline
The Flames would be able to acquire a ton of assets in a trade involving Lindholm. He would easily become one of, if not the most coveted players on the trade market because of his modest salary and high-end skill set. The Flames could use those draft assets to acquire another young centre, or they could draft players if they are looking to re-build.
3. Let him play out his contract and see what happens
This is the worst-case scenario when it comes to Lindholm. Calgary could keep Lindholm on the roster for the entire 2023-24 season and try to make the playoffs with him and then attempt to sign him in the 2024 off-season. But that would be a disaster waiting to happen. The Flames organization cannot let another high-end player leave the organization for nothing. It has happened too often in the last 10 seasons.
Overall, Lindholm had another strong season at both ends of the ice. The goal scoring totals dropped off significantly, but that was to be expected after losing two elite linemates.
Lindholm is a cornerstone piece for this organization moving forward and it would be in their best interest to either get him signed long term, or trade him before the 2024 deadline.
Overall grade: B+
What did you think of Elias Lindholm this season? Let us know your grade for him in the comments section! 

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