The Calgary Flames may be looking at the next few months with their eyes solely set on the season at hand, but they should be prioritizing their 2024 unrestricted free agent class. With the number of players that are set to come off the active roster on July 1, the team should be acting on them first rather than trying to salvage a potential playoff appearance.
The recent comments by pending UFA Elias Lindholm caused some stir among the Flames fanbase. Lindholm’s noncommittal verbiage to trying to get a new contract done further pushes the conversation towards just what exactly should the team do with him?
He’s too good of a player to walk for free, but also too good enough to trade away for pennies on the dollar. So we posed the question to Flames fans, just what would you prefer? Signing Lindholm to a market contract or trading him away for assets?
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Trade or sign Lindholm?
We presented the below poll with just two options to keep it simple. The results were almost even:
Team Sign Lindholm
For those that fell into Team Sign Lindholm, there is a big caveat here before diving in deeper. The noted eight-year, $8M contract was one that could be too low for what Lindholm is looking for. His closed comparable right now would be Bo Horvat, who just signed an eight-year, $8.5M AAV contract. That looks to be the going rate for first line centres around a similar playing level. That is probably Lindholm and his agent’s bottom price. So an 8×8 contract is a bit of wishful thinking.
That being said, nearly half of fans said they would be okay with getting that deal done to keep the player. Lindholm has been the top centre the team has been looking for since, well… forever. He may not be in the same tier as a Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews, but he’s still a darn good player on any team. His game has come into form with the Flames and they never gave him a full season alongside Jonathan Huberdeau to see how things work. He could be a future candidate for captain as well.
Getting him signed long-term well before the deadline would give the team a solid lineup down the middle while they let some of their other prospects develop under a bit of a safety blanket. Makes a lot of sense.
What doesn’t make a lot of sense though is if the team decides to rebuild, having Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, and Elias Lindholm making $25.5M a season combined.
Team Trade Lindholm
For those that are looking towards the team starting all over again, being on Team Trade Lindholm makes sense. They’d be thrilled to see the team trade one of it’s biggest assets for a haul of picks and prospects. There is no doubt that any potential Lindholm trade the Flames execute would net them some solid assets in return.
Any team would successfully upgrade their centre position with Lindholm, making every team most likely interested. Of course his value could depreciate slightly as a result of him needing a new contract, but with the potential cap increase coming next season it may not be as much of a detractor.
A trade right now makes little sense for anyone since teams are trying to figure opening night rosters out, as well as already being close to the cap, but a trade deadline move could be the play for any potential Lindholm deal.
Now what exactly the team would get remains to be seen, but a first-round pick is mandatory. This first-rounder could have the potential of being the Flames future number one centre. A player that could develop into a consistent two-way player that nets a lot of goals. Heck, it could even be Elias Lindholm!
Most fans seem to agree with this way of thinking, slightly edging out team trade in our poll.
Toss of the dice
Joking aside, these situations are never easy. The team is stuck between a rock and a hard place, as is Lindholm really as well. No one appears to be budging, which can always change with one phone call, but most would just like this situation to wrap up so everyone can either buckle in or move on.