Ever since the Calgary Flames traded Joe Nieuwendyk, they’ve had a difficult time finding high-end centres.
Nieuwendyk is one of just five centres in the 50-year history of the Flames franchise to score 40 or more goals in a single season. None have achieved that feat in a Flames uniform since Nieuwendyk became a Dallas Star in 1995.
Plenty of talented centres have come and gone, but (for the most part) they’ve been overshadowed in Calgary by an enviable crop of star wingers.
With all due respect to German Titov, Marc Savard, Craig Conroy, Daymond Langkow, and Sean Monahan, they haven’t quite been able to compare against the likes of Jarome Iginla, Johnny Gaudreau, and Matthew Tkachuk.
Monahan has had an excellent run in Calgary, even if he’s been hampered by injuries in recent years. His 34-goal season in 2018–19 stands as the high point for post-Nieuwendyk Flames centres.
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At least … it did, until Saturday night’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. @Elias Lindholm, Monahan’s successor as the Flames’ No. 1 centre, potted a pair of goals (one on each Oilers netminder) to hit 34 on the year in just his 65th appearance.
Lindholm’s release has been nothing short of lethal this season. His 184 shots on goal rank third on the Flames and 39th in the National Hockey League. He’s converting at an astonishingly high 18.5% success rate (which is almost certainly primed for some regression, but still).
Only 10 NHL players have scored more goals than Lindholm thus far in 2021–22. Check out this motley crew:
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  1. Auston Matthews (TOR) — 47 in 59 GP
  2. Leon Draisaitl (EDM) — 47 in 66 GP
  3. Chris Kreider (NYR) — 44 in 65 GP
  4. Alex Ovechkin (WSH) — 42 in 65 GP
  5. Kyle Connor (WPG) — 41 in 66 GP
  6. David Pastrnak (BOS) — 37 in 65 GP
  7. Alex DeBrincat (CHI) — 37 in 66 GP
  8. Filip Forsberg (NSH) — 36 in 52 GP
  9. Kirill Kaprizov (MIN) — 35 in 62 GP
  10. Connor McDavid (EDM) — 35 in 65 GP
Five players have already reached the 40-goal plateau this season. Will Lindholm achieve that feat for the first time in his NHL career?
Since the Atlanta Flames were established in 1972, Guy Chouinard, Kent Nilsson, Mike Bullard, Robert Reichel, and Nieuwendyk are the only centres to score 40 goals in a season with the franchise.
Nieuwendyk and Chouinard are the only two Flames centres with 50-goal seasons, with Nieuwendyk reaching 51 in back-to-back years in Calgary. (Chouinard hit 50 in the Flames’ second-last year in Atlanta).
Barring a ridiculous late-season surge, Lindholm isn’t getting 50. He might, however, become the first Flames centre to score 40 goals in a season since Reichel did exactly that in both 1992–93 and 1993–94.
The Flames have just 17 games left to play this season. Lindholm has 34 goals and 68 points in 65 appearances with the team in 2021–22. All he needs is six more goals in 17 games (a 0.35 goals-per-game pace) to reach that milestone.
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Even if 40 is out of his reach, Lindholm needs just one more goal to officially pass Monahan as the Flames centre with the most goals in a single season since Reichel in 1994.
If Lindholm can climb beyond 40 goals, he’ll start getting into Nieuwendyk territory.
At his current clip, Lindholm is on pace to score 43 goals in 82 games. Prior to 2021–22, Lindholm had never scored more than 29 goals in a season.
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Powered in part by Lindholm’s two goals, the Flames defeated the Oilers 9–5 on Saturday night. After two days off to rest and practice, the Flames will return to action on Tuesday evening to host the Colorado Avalanche.

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