If Elias Lindholm’s decision drags on, does that handcuff the Calgary Flames?

Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
9 months ago
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Folks, Calgary Flames forward Elias Lindholm has a decision to make. The final year of his contract with the Flames begins on July 1, and he could potentially become an unrestricted free agent in another 12 months. Unrestricted free agency would give him the ability to choose his home for the following seven seasons. On the other hand, he could lock in with the Flames for another eight seasons.
Staying with the Flames or not represents a gigantic life decision for Lindholm. If his decision drags further into the summer, does that handcuff the Flames’ ability to manoeuvre this off-season?
The possibility of the Lindholm saga dragging on a bit was mentioned on Monday’s edition of TSN’s Insider Trading panel by Pierre LeBrun:
“Another busy Canadian team, the Calgary Flames. We know that. And I think it’s important to clarify this: Elias Lindholm, to our knowledge, has not told the Calgary Flames that he’s not going to re-sign. I think that’s important to note. He’s also not told exactly what he’s ready to do. So that sort-of limbo situation is interesting because teams are calling Calgary and saying ‘Would you do this? Would you do this?’ One thing the Flames have talked about internally, I’m told, is that they don’t need to decide this this week. That if they feel they still have a chance to sign Elias Lindholm, maybe this goes into late summer, goes into September, doesn’t have to be decided now.”
The prevailing sentiment from a segment of Flames fans on social media certainly seems to be “trade him already!” And that feeling is understandable, given that Lindholm with a year left on a very team-friendly contract with a $4.85 million cap hit would be a gigantic trade chip to play. Knowing whether Lindholm will be a long-term member of the Flames immediately would be beneficial and allow the Flames to maximize the return.
Not knowing what the plan is with Lindholm could potentially put the Flames in a situation like they were in during the summer of 2016, when negotiations on new deals for Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan dominated the summer and weren’t decided until camp, or 2019, when contract talks with Matthew Tkachuk did the same. In an ideal world, the Flames would know what their players want to do quickly, which would allow dominoes to topple and other moves to happen.
That said, Lindholm may be the biggest move the Flames can make this off-season, but he’s not the only one. Buzz from the NHL’s insiders appears to indicate that potential swaps involving the likes of Noah Hanifin, Dan Vladar and Tyler Toffoli could soon materialize. Hanifin represents a pretty big trade chip himself, and the return the Flames get from that swap could provide them with wiggle room to help maximize whatever happens with Lindholm – either a big trade or a big contract.
The Flames probably need to know what’s happening with Lindholm soon. But soon doesn’t mean immediately. And considering what a big deal Lindholm’s decision for his future represents both for the Flames organization and Lindholm’s own personal future, both sides really need to take the time to get this right.
If it drags into training camp, though, then it may be time for hand-wringing.

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