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The Calgary Flames shouldn’t sign Elias Lindholm to a long term extension

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Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Munnich
7 months ago
There has been a lot of discussion about Elias Lindholm this off-season. Should the Flames re-sign him to a long-term contract extension? Or should they move him by the 2024 trade deadline?
If Lindholm were to re-sign in Calgary, it would likely cost the Flames an eight-year contract with an average annual value of $8.5-9.25 million.
There are strong cases to be made on both sides of this argument. Lindholm is a very good player. One of the better 200-foot centres in the game today. However, the best move for the long-term health of the Calgary Flames would be to trade him. Here’s why.

Age

It would make sense for the Flames to sign Lindholm long term if he was 23-26. That way the Flames would be locking up the prime years of his career.
But by the time the 2024-25 season kicks off, Lindholm will be just six weeks away from his 30th birthday. Essentially the Flames would be signing Lindholm to a massive contract when he is 30 years old.
How many times have those contracts worked out for non elite players? Here are some examples of long-term contacts not working out for some players who were considered high end centres at the time they signed their contract extensions.
PlayerAge During ContractTermAAV
Tyler Seguin27-348 Years$9.85 million
Nazem Kadri32-387 Years$7 million
Matt Duchene29-357 Years$8 million
Brayden Schenn29-368 Years$6.5 million
I would have Lindholm in the same range as this group of players. He’s not an elite, number one centre. But he is in that 20-30 range if you were to rank centres in the NHL today.
How long is he going to be in that group? A lot of players start to see their game fall off around age 30. That’s exactly when an eight-year extension would kick in for Lindholm.
Yes he is a smart player which might help his longevity. But that’s still not enough to justify spending upwards of $9+ million of cap space on him for the next eight years.
All the contracts listed above are viewed as some of the worst in the NHL right now. Lindholm’s will likely be viewed the same 3-4 years from now. I hope I am wrong, but history indicates that spending a ton of money on aging, non elite players does not work out.

Flames’ current contract situation

I would be more open to the idea of signing Lindholm if the team had little to no money tied up long term in aging players. But Calgary has the opposite problem.
It sucks to say but this Flames team as currently constructed are getting old and expensive quickly.
PlayerAge During ContractTerm RemainingAAV
Jonathan Huberdeau30-378 Years$10.5 million
Nazem Kadri32-376 Years$7 million
MacKenzie Weegar29-368 Years$6.25 million
Blake Coleman32-354 Years$4.9 million
Jacob Markstrom33-353 Years$6 million
Elias Lindholm**30-378 Years$9 million
If Craig Conroy and the Flames were to sign Lindholm to an eight year, $72 million contact, they would have $43.65 million of cap space tied up in 30+ year old players. It’s incredibly difficult to build a winning team with that much cap space dedicated to 30+ year old players.

Need to look to the future

One other thing to keep in mind is that in the near future the Flames are going to run into a situation where they will need to sign their younger players and future UFAs to extensions.
Matthew Coronato, Jakob Pelletier, Dustin Wolf, Dillon Dube, Andrew Mangiapane, Yegor Sharangovich, Oliver Kylington, and Rasmus Andersson are all going to be signing contract extensions within the next three seasons. They are all going to be looking for significant pay raises. Where is the money going to come from when you have $43.65 million locked up in the veteran group I listed above?
For a couple of decades, the Flames ownership group, led by Murray Edwards, have made short-sighted, short-term decisions to help sneak the Flames into the playoffs one year at a time. Rarely do they look at the long-term ramifications of the moves they make today. That has to change. All great organizations have the long-term future in mind so they can be successful now while not destroying their future.
For far too long the Flames have signed too many aging players to long term contracts, traded away way too many draft picks, and given up on young players to accommodate roster spots for veterans.
The Flames have to start changing their approach to team building. And signing a 30-year-old Lindholm to an 8-year contract extension would just be them doing the same thing they’ve been doing for the last 20 years. What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
That’s exactly what the Flames would be doing if they sign Lindholm.

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