The Vancouver Canucks returned to action on Tuesday night following the NHL’s All-Star week break. The Canucks were represented by six players in this year’s rendition of the annual league event. It’s the first time since 1988 that any one team has had such a prolific presence at the All-Star Game.
Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes, and Thatcher Demko were joined by Head Coach Rick Tocchet at the all-star celebration. Recent trade pick-up Elias Lindholm was also in Toronto, donning a Canucks sweater for the first time in his career at the All-Star draft.
Elias Lindholm, a 29-year-old centerman drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2013, was acquired by the team in a trade with the Calgary Flames on Jan. 31. In exchange for Lindholm, the Canucks sent Calgary forward Andrei Kuzmenko, defensive prospects Joni Jurmo and Hunter Brzustewicz, and both a first-round pick and conditional fourth-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft.
“I’m excited to start something new. Obviously I loved my time in Calgary, I had a great few years there. Now, I’m a Vancouver Canuck and I couldn’t be more happy," Lindholm told ESPN during All-Star weekend.
Lindholm appeared in 49 games this season for the Flames, registering 32 points (9g, 23a) with the team. He's currently in the last year of a six-year contract signed in 2018, carrying a cap hit of $4.85M AAV. He will become a UFA at the end of the season.
A once 40-goal scorer, Lindholm’s production this season has taken a hit as the Flames have struggled all season. It made some question if the send out for Lindholm was a steep price to pay for a declining forward as a rental pick-up piece before the trade deadline.
Though, Lindholm shouldn’t be expected to take on the role of a high points generating forward, but rather, the value he adds to the Vancouver Canucks roster comes from the gaps he fills in it.
A versatile two way center, Elias Lindholm provides the Canucks with a forward capable of opening up space at even strength, as well as another lethal shot option. Additionally, he adds another scoring threat to the powerplay. Defensively, Lindholm is an effective penalty killer and is a vicious opponent in the face-off dot, winning 55.5% of the draws he takes.
On Tuesday, against the Carolina Hurricanes, Lindholm showcased those depth talents well. Leading all Canucks forwards with 21:01 minutes of ice time, Lindholm had an immediate impact in his first game with the team.
“He’s really good around the net. He’s kind of like Brock, in the sense of he knows where to go for good timing. That gives us another option, too,” J.T. Miller told reporters pre-game on Tuesday, when asked about what Lindholm brings to the Canucks powerplay unit.
It was indeed Lindholm’s net front presence that was the difference maker against the Hurricanes. Lindholm became the fifth Canuck in franchise history to score multiple goals in their debut with the team, tipping in powerplay goals in both the first and second period.
In the face-off dot, Lindholm showcased his proficiency, winning 50 per cent of the draws he lined up for. On the defensive side of the puck, Lindholm was tasked with time on the PK and blocked three shots, including a critical one in the third period.
“We talked about watching him at net front with Calgary, how good he was. Knowing when to be aggressive, when not to be. When you go through the tape tomorrow you’ll see hockey IQ plays. He was great tonight for us,” said head coach Rick Tocchet, commenting on Elias Lindholm’s performance in Tuesday’s 3-2 road win.
Now surrounded by a cadre of talent, there’s always the chance Lindholm comes in and returns to the production values he’s seen before. In the 2022-23 season, Lindholm generated 64 points (22g, 42a). During Calgary's 2021-22 season, the Swedish centerman netted 40 goals, finishing the year with 82 points (40g, 42a). He was also a Selke Trophy finalist.
Whether or not Lindholm has the ability to find that finesse again with the Canucks remains to be seen. Whether or not he’s re-signed by the Canucks remains to be seen, as well. In the meantime, Lindholm appears ready to supply the team with critical components they were missing down the middle.