FlamesNation Mailbag: Thinking about Elias Lindholm’s future, Jonathan Huberdeau’s linemates, and more!

Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
Welcome to June, friends, and the beginning of a busy, busy month in the National Hockey League. By the end of the month, we’ll have crowned a brand-new Stanley Cup champion, handed out a bunch of major awards, set next season’s salary cap, held seven rounds of the entry draft, and teams will be scrambling to get themselves ready for free agency.
As we ready ourselves for the frenzy of June, let’s check in with the mailbag!
The origin of the “Elias Lindholm for Columbus’ third-overall pick” seems to be from a Julian MacKenzie column over at The Athletic, where Julian flat-out admitted in his preamble for that trade idea that it was a bit of a wacky idea. Without a contract extension in place, or the ability to negotiate one beforehand, getting the third-overall pick in a draft as crazy-stacked as this one seems a bit hefty. Bear in mind that Matthew Tkachuk – with an eight-year extension in place – landed the Flames a pair of NHL players with a combined two controllable years remaining, plus prospect Cole Schwindt and a future first-round pick.
In short: you’re not getting much unless Lindholm’s signed to an extension. You’re not getting nothing, but you’re looking at a moderate haul – like a second-round pick and a good prospect or roster player – turning into something more Tkachuk-esque.
That said, the Flames’ preference is definitely to keep the player, given how important centre depth is to how this team has been constructed over time (and how crazy they’ve gone trying to find good centres over the past few decades).
Honestly, I think the big allure of Brad Treliving for the Maple Leafs was his experience in a Canadian market. Sure, nothing’s quite as voracious as Toronto in terms of fan and media interest, but Treliving handled the spotlight and rigours of the job extremely well during his time in Calgary. Plus, look at the job he did retaining the Flames’ key veterans over time. We might be drawn to the departures of Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau, but he did a superb job retaining Mark Giordano, Mikael Backlund and TJ Brodie, among others, at extremely fair contracts that allowed the club some cap wiggle room to add at the fringes. Sure, Treliving wasn’t a perfect GM, but the work he did keeping the core together and not breaking the bank was extremely laudable and probably made Brendan Shanahan and MLSE brass take notice.
My understanding is Conroy was runner-up for the Buffalo job that ended up going to Jason Botterill back in 2017. It’s hard to conclude that there wasn’t interest in Conroy since then because, well, teams don’t exactly openly advertise the people they interviewed and didn’t hire. I will say that there may have been a perception that Conroy was the heir apparent in Calgary, so it would probably take a lot to pull him away from Calgary, but that’s just my speculation.
In short: I don’t think it’s reason for concern. Teams tend to hire ex-GMs for GM jobs, regardless of the past success (or lack of thereof) those individuals had as GMs, so it’s fairly uncommon for AGMs to break into that rotation. That Conroy has broken into the big-time and is in one of just 32 GM jobs league-wide is a sign of how impressive he likely was in his interviews to earn that position.
In his best season (2021-22), Jonathan Huberdeau primarily played with Sam Bennett and one of Anthony Duclair or Owen Tippett. Instead of thinking of handedness, I’d think about them more in terms of player archetypes. Sam Bennett is an awesome fore-checker, and he’s shown the ability and/or willingness to crash the net and get his points the hard way, by mucking around in the middle of the ice. Duclair and Tippett both showed the ability to consistently put pucks on net, and create opportunities for Bennett or Huberdeau to crash the net and get rebound goals.
In terms of players on the Flames’ roster, I would think that Nazem Kadri would be a good Bennett type, while somebody like Andrew Mangiapane or Dillon Dube could be fun as the pucks-on-net guy. (Eventually, Matt Coronato could be a good pucks-on-net guy, too, but I would probably try to ease him into the lineup initially before throwing him into that type of high-pressure role.)

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