News broke Tuesday of future Hall of Famer Patrice Bergeron’s retirement. Bergeron played 19 seasons in the NHL. He amassed an impressive career and was known as the best two-way forward in the NHL for much of that time.
Obviously Bergeron has been a core piece of the Boston Bruins organization for nearly two decades and will be impossible to replace.
However, Elias Lindholm has long been compared to Patrice Bergeron throughout his career. With contract disputes and Craig Conroy’s new mandate of trading pending UFAs, a marriage between the Bruins and Lindholm is looking more and more realistic. Can something be cooked up?
Lindholm to Boston trade proposal
|Calgary Receives||Boston Receives|
|Pavel Zacha (C/W)|
Mason Lohrei (D)
Matthew Poitras (C)
|Elias Lindholm (C)|
Kevin Rooney (C)
The Flames would send Elias Lindholm and Kevin Rooney to Boston in return for Pavel Zacha and two prospects, Mason Lohrei and Matthew Poitras. Zacha is coming off a breakout season with 57 points, spending time on the wing and at centre. The 2015 first-round pick has had some turbulence in the past but broke out with Boston finding himself on the power play.
Beyond Zacha, Mason Lohrei and Matthew Poitras are top prospects in the Bruins system. Lohrei, a big defenceman with offensive upside, played six games for the Bruins AHL affiliate last season and scored 32 points in 40 games with the Ohio State Buckeyes of the NCAA. Lohrei could challenge to make an NHL roster this season and make an immediate impact. Matthew Poitras returned to the CHL this season and posted 95 points in 63 games with the Guelph Storm. Poitras would likely play in the AHL next season, bolstering the Flames lack of centre prospects.
The Flames send Elias Lindholm to Boston to sign an extension, and throw in Kevin Rooney for cap compliance purposes.
Continued retooling for the Flames
Ideally, draft picks would be favourable but the Bruins don’t hold any in the first three rounds of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. The Flames get a player they can inject in the lineup and have under a reasonable contract ($4.75M AAV) while adding two prospects into their system who can challenge for an NHL roster within two years.
It’s not a “win now” trade, but with contract issues and Johnny Gaudreau’s brutal exit still in the rear view mirror, Craig Conroy has made it clear he’s not letting those high profile players walk. Considering the Flames are giving up a pending UFA that they can’t afford to re-sign in Lindholm, and a centre they shouldn’t have signed last free agency in Kevin Rooney, I’d say the Flames win this one in the long run.
Boston aims to stay competitive
The Bruins get a great defensive forward they can sign to a long-term deal. Although the Bruins will be tight for cap space, Zacha and Lindholm’s contracts this upcoming season are very comparable at $4.75M and $4.85M respectively. For the time being as a rental, the move makes tons of sense and allows Boston to maintain cap space for Jeremy Swayman and Trent Frederic this season.
It’s a price to pay out of your prospect pool but Boston has no draft capital and if they want to stay competitive, adding a number one centre is a must. Bottom line, Lindholm is one of the hottest trade targets at centre and a top two-way forward in the league that Boston desperately needs.
Any team looking to trade for Elias Lindholm undoubtedly would want to sign him to an extension this offseason. Lindholm and his camp reportedly asked Calgary for $9M AAV on an eight-year term. Obviously something the Flames shouldn’t afford.
That number may have just increased. The Carolina Hurricanes announced an extension with Sebastian Aho, amounting to $78M over 8 seasons. That works out to $9.75M annually. Aho plays a similar game to Lindholm, and has produced statistically at a comparable rate throughout his career. The only caveat is Lindholm’s age of 28 versus Aho at 26. The age may play a part in contract discussion but Lindholm will still fetch at least $8–9M per season when an extension is finally time.
This does make things interesting for Boston. With just over $5 million in cap space headed into this season, the Bruins still have pending arbitration hearings. With Jeremy Swayman, Trent Fredric and Morgan Geikie all asking for raises, i’ts a guarantee that at least one of those contacts will inevitably need to move for a Lindholm extension to be a possibility.
Jeremy Swayman makes the most sense, but Calgary is filled to the brim with NHL calibre goalies. It might end up being a move where Boston acquires Lindholm, and looks to set a contract extension in place after moving Swayman, who undoubtably has the most trade value. With a tight cap and making room for a Lindholm extension, I’d expect draft capital to be a number one priority for the Bruins considering their fire sale on draft picks leading up to last seasons deadline.
Keeping Lindholm until the trade deadline
Much has been discussed about the Flames interest in trading pending UFAs this offseason, when they could get production out of them and then trade them at the deadline. Although that is a very common approach, Elias Lindholm is the lynchpin of the Flames’ pending UFA pool. His decision impacts many of the other player’s decisions and also dictates what the long-term outlook for this team is. Lindholm is the Flames’ number one priority and they can’t risk losing one of their top players to free agency again.
To add to that, what happens if the Flames aren’t in a position to sell at the deadline? They keep Lindholm for a playoff run, and inevitably still cannot pay him. It’s frankly too much risk after the recent contract history of this organization. The same isn’t entirely applicable to the whole Flames pending UFA class. Some players are worth taking that risk on or have lower dollar values come free agency.
If you are trying to maximize asset management and you can’t come to terms on a contract then a business decision has to be made so that the next contract discussion can begin. With a slim cap increase on the horizon, the books are tight and Lindholm’s potential hefty raise drastically alters the front offices financial decisions with the rest of the roster.
Boston is interested, Lindholm can’t come to terms in Calgary, and Craig Conroy doesn’t want players on his roster that don’t want to stay in Calgary long-term. The Flames can bring in a decent return for Lindholm right now and look to address other players situations going forward. The pieces are all falling into place and after arbitration is settled in Boston, look for news to break.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire