We’ve finally reached the first current Calgary Flames player on our Top 50 list. While this individual hasn’t been with the Flames for a really lengthy span quite yet, he’s become a fixture on the first line, the first units of both sides of special teams, and he’s established himself both as a clutch goal-scorer and one of the top two-way forwards in the game

At #30, here’s Elias Lindholm.

Player, 2018-present

A product of Gälve, Sweden, Lindholm is the son of longtime Swedish pro (and short-term NHLer) Mikael Lindholm, and game up through minor hockey in his hometown. He began high-level hockey with the Brynäs and had played a season and change of Elitserien hockey before his draft date. He was selected at fifth overall by Carolina in the 2013 NHL Draft.

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Lindholm immediately transitioned to North America, signing with Carolina and making their NHL roster in his first camp. He spent three seasons primarily as a winger (who could take face-offs) before getting more time up the middle by 2016-17. After five seasons, though, he reached a contract impasse with the Hurricanes and the ‘Canes quietly explored their trade options. Lindholm had established himself as a really solid NHLer, but nobody was quite sure of his ceiling.

At the 2018 NHL Draft, seemingly out of nowhere, the Hurricanes sent Lindholm and Noah Hanifin to the Flames in exchange for Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland, and the rights to college star Adam Fox. Lindholm was subsequently signed to a six year deal with the Flames.

The best thing that ever happened to Lindholm’s hockey career may have been Sean Monahan getting wrist surgery at the tail end of the 2017-18 season. Due to Monahan’s surgery, new Flames head coach opted to put Lindholm on a line with him and Johnny Gaudreau during the 2018 pre-season to minimize the number of face-offs Monahan would take – in order to ensure Monahan was up to 100% for the regular season. The trio clicked and proceeded to have a heck of a 2018-19 season and Lindholm was off and running with the Flames.

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Through four seasons with the Flames, Lindholm has gone through four stages:

  • Playing the wing with Monahan and Gaudreau (all of 2018-19, part of 2019-20)
  • Playing centre between Andrew Mangiapane and Matthew Tkachuk (parts of 2019-20 and 2020-21)
  • Playing centre between Tkachuk and Dillon Dube (part of 2020-21)
  • Playing centre between Tkachuk and Gaudreau (part of 2020-21, all of 2021-22)

During this process, Lindholm has emerged from his proverbial cocoon and turned into the two-way butterfly that the Hurricanes pondered if he could be (and the Flames bet hard that he would be). Over four seasons, he’s received Selke Trophy votes three times – he finished 10th in balloting in 2018-19 and was the runner-up in 2021-22 – and he’s received Lady Byng votes twice. He’s also set career highs in goals three times, scoring 27 (2018-19), 29 (2019-20) and 42 goals (2021-22).

In short: Lindholm has been excellent defensively and excellent offensively, serving as a crucial piece in the Flames’ division-winning teams in 2018-19 and 2021-22. He’s become a tremendously important Flame and with two seasons left on his current deal, he might become even more important over time.

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Top 50 Flames of All Time

Honourable mentions | #50 Brad Treliving | #49 Sonia Scurfield | #48 Curtis Glencross | #47 Colin Patterson | #46 Jiri Hudler | #45 Jim Peplinski | #44 Jim “Bearcat” Murray | #43 Nelson Skalbania | #42 Dion Phaneuf | #41 Reggie Lemelin | #40 Joel Otto | #39 Dan Bouchard | #38 Paul Reinhart | #37 Tom Lysiak | #36 Eric Vail | #35 Tim Hunter | #34 Al Coates | #33 Harvey the Hound | #32 Martin Gelinas | #31 Sergei Makarov | #30 Elias Lindholm

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