Calgary Flames

Lindholm and Hanifin free agency updates for the Calgary Flames from the 32 Thoughts Podcast

With the 2023 NHL Draft rapidly approaching and just a week away, trade rumours are flying around at a rapid pace. As we all know, one of the main teams in the centre of these rumours is the Calgary Flames. With a plethora of major decisions on the horizon, the Flames are set to be right in the middle of everything as we get closer to the draft. On the newest episode of The 32 Thoughts Podcast, Elliotte Friedman touched on a couple big topics when it comes to the Flames.

Elias Lindholm will be paid handsomely

Friedman mentioned that Elias Lindholm will command at minimum the same type of deal that Bo Horvat got with the New York Islanders, and the Flames are fully aware of this. As a reminder, that deal came in at an AAV of $8.5M for eight years. It sounds like that’s the bare minimum starting point for any Lindholm deal. He also mentioned how Lindholm and Horvat are both represented by Newport Sports so the deals will be very similar.

Lindholm will only commit if the Flames aim to remain competitive long-term

Unsurprisingly, Friedman mentioned that one of the major points Lindholm has made to the Flames is that he isn’t looking to play for a rebuilding team. He wants to be assured that the team will remain competitive not just next season but long-term if he were to sign an eight-year deal. Friedman also called out the incoming youth movement on the Flames and that Lindholm is fine with younger players coming in, but wants to ensure the team is still competitive.

Don’t expect a Lindholm decision before the draft

One of the more interesting notes from the episode was in regards to the timeline on a decision from Lindholm. Friedman explained that the team won’t pressure Lindholm to accept a new contract before the draft, instead giving him longer into the offseason decide.

Given the draft is typically the busiest offseason trade period, most expected Lindholm would be either traded or in agreement on a new deal by the draft. It certainly diffuses some of the tension and urgency in the situation knowing that this saga could continue past the draft and into July and possibly beyond.

The Flames are awaiting Lindholm’s decision before negotiating with their other 2024 UFAs

With seven major unrestricted free agents in 2024, the Flames have a ton of major decisions to make. That said it appears as though the remaining decisions will wait until the Lindholm situation is sorted. In particular, Friedman mentioned that the Flames are holding off discussions with the likes of Tyler Toffoli, Nikita Zadorov, and Chris Tanev until they know Lindholm’s future.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t make much sense to discuss those players without knowing if Lindholm will be back. If he decides to leave, that could drastically alter the Flames’ future.

The future of the Flames depends on Lindholm’s decision

It’s fair to say that whatever decision Lindholm makes will drastically alter the future of the franchise. Friedman made it clear that if Lindholm decides to stay the team will aim to remain in the race and be competitive for the considerable future and Lindholm wouldn’t stay otherwise.

That said, Friedman stated that if Lindholm decides to leave and potential movement among other pending free agents, Conroy and the Flames management team will have to explore their next steps. If Lindholm does leave, the Flames will seriously consider a retool or rebuild. Friedman did say that the Flames won’t rebuild completely from the ground up but will certainly look at the future of the team and where to go next.

Noah Hanifin is as good as gone

After reports came out earlier this week that Noah Hanifin has decided he does not want to re-sign in Calgary, Friedman confirmed the same. He mentioned that Hanifin has made his final decision and will not be returning to Calgary next year. On top of that Friedman mentioned that we should expect to see a Hanifin deal sooner than later, and likely before the draft next week.

Jacob Markstrom will be back next year

Lastly, Friedman touched on the Flames crowded crease, and squashed any rumours that the team could make a surprise move and trade Jacob Markstrom. Friedman didn’t mince words and confirmed Markstrom wants to return to the Flames and will not be moved.

He then touched on the fact that the Flames need to make room for Dustin Wolf next year and Daniel Vladar is likely to be moved this summer to make space now that Markstrom is for sure coming back.

Plenty of decisions to make

There’s plenty of major decisions coming up for the Calgary Flames and based on Friedman’s reporting it sounds like we could see some major dominoes fall within the next couple weeks.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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