Canucks need to face up the reality they will probably lose Elias Lindholm

The Vancouver Canucks will undoubtedly make a hard push to retain Elias Lindholm, but in all likelihood he will be plying his trade elsewhere in 2024-25.
Edmonton Oilers v Vancouver Canucks - Game One
Edmonton Oilers v Vancouver Canucks - Game One / Derek Cain/GettyImages

While there was no doubting Elias Lindholm's quality as a two-way centre, the Vancouver Canucks still arguably gave up too much to acquire him from the Calgary Flames at the end of January. The price of Andrei Kuzmenko, two prospects and first and fourth round draft picks was a significant gamble for someone out of contract after this season.

Any concerns only increased, as Lindholm initially struggled to fit in and saw his productivity rate decrease from the first half of the 2023-24 regular season in Calgary. In fact it got so bad, there was even talk of him being moved again, prior to the March 8 trade deadline.

However, all was 'forgiven' come playoff time, as LIndholm showed why the Canucks traded for him in the first place. He more than did his part with five goals, five assists and a +4 rating in 13 games, in what was the best postseason showing of his NHL career.

As a result, the team, fans and media alike are now more enticed by the idea of bringing the 29-year-old back next season. However, this is going to be (much) easier said than done.

General manager Patrik Allvin made it perfectly clear during his end of season presser that he is unsatisfied and wants to strengthen the team, with a view to becoming a consistent contender. This theoretically includes re-signing Lindholm.

As always, money talks

However, the issue with this is that the Canucks pure and simple might not be able to afford the 2013 fifth overall draft pick. With nine unrestricted and two restricted pending free agents to consider overall, Allvin and company have a lot on their collective plate.

Yes, as per CapFriendly, the Canucks have the eight-highest projected cap space for next season at $23,778,333 at the time of writing. However, their list of pending free agents include the likes of Nikita Zadorov, Tyler Myers, Casey DeSmith, Arturs Silovs and Filip Hronek, who you imagine all deserve healthy wage increases.

Along these lines, Lindholm will similarly receive a significant pay rise from his current annual average of $4.85 million. Of course if the price is too high, it could push the Canucks out of the conversation, even though they are committed on making a strong push to entice him to stay in Vancouver.

In this respect, the reality is the 2024 NHL All-Star is going to be in high demand and knows he will receive extremely generous offers if he tests free agency. Speculation has it that he's looking for around $8 million, which will be tough for the Canucks to reach given their aforementioned number of other pending free agents.

Odds favour Lindholm to leave the Canucks

One person who alludes to the writing being on the wall is The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun. He writes: "I do believe the Canucks make a strong push to re-sign Lindholm, which may mean having to clear more space out. But I suspect the 29-year-old’s price will be too high for him to resist going to market. He should receive tremendous interest given the scarcity at his position and his skill set."

Giving credit where it's due to Jim Parsons of The Hockey Writers, not helping the feel around the situation is an Instagram post from Lindholm's wife. It shows him packing with his child, including the caption 'Last day in Vancouver'.

Now as LeBrun mentions, perhaps the Canucks can clear out some cap space to help facilitate their attempts to negotiate with Lindholm. As per Sportsnet's Courtney Jacobsen, one suggestion is buying out Ilya Mikheyev.

Mikheyev had a disappointing overall season in Vancouver, which included no points in 11 playoff games. As per CapFriendly, if the Canucks bought him out, it would save £3.6 million next season and $2.6 million the season after, albeit with respective cap hits of $1.15 million and $2.15 million.

In all honesty though, we wonder if Lindholm really is worth making such a concerted effort to re-sign? The reality is he will turn 30 later on this year and there has to be concern after a regular season with his worst productivity since 2017-18, i.e all potentially alluding to him beginning on a downward trend after 11 seasons in the NHL.

Yes, the Boden, Sweden native did redeem himself during the playoffs, but there are no guarantees this form will continue over into next season. While Allvin and the Canucks should certainly aim to bring him back, the reality is he probably isn't going to return next season and this might not actually be such a terrible loss.

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