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Calgary Flames @NHLFlames
The #Flames have acquired Andrei Kuzmenko, a 2024 first round pick, Hunter Brzustewicz, Joni Jurmo and a conditional 2024 fourth round pick from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Elias Lindholm: https://t.co/aGOGAdiJQ5 pic.twitter.com/8mhmTnRWQx
Lindholm hit his peak during the 2021-22 season when he totaled 42 goals and 40 assists alongside Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau. This season, he’s floundering. The Swede has scored nine goals—just five at even strength—plus 23 assists in 49 games. He hasn’t driven offense, and his defense is not up to snuff.
Where is his reality? Probably somewhere in the middle. Lindholm has made his career as an offensive driver and solid defender who provides both shooting and passing prowess in the offensive zone. He produced at a 70-point pace in his three seasons before that aforementioned career year. He’s a low-end first-line center.
While the Canucks did not have as clear-cut a need to add a center as other teams, they certainly have room for their new import. Lindholm will either be a deck-stacking third-line center or allow J.T. Miller to move to the wing, where he is at his best. He should jump onto the top power-play unit and contribute. The 2013 fifth overall pick scored 10 power-play goals in each of the previous two seasons, and he’ll be well-fed by Quinn Hughes.
And while his play dipped after his top weapons in Calgary departed, he should be well sheltered in Vancouver. Elias Pettersson’s line will still be the primary target for opposing coaches in matching lines.
And while acquiring the best player available makes a lot of sense for a top team, there are still some questions about how good the Canucks truly are. They are scoring on 13.2 percent of their shots on goal, and Thatcher Demko is playing at the level of a Vezina-winner. They’re going to regress. It’s just a question of how much.
Still, their record has them as the top team in the Western Conference. If that’s not a true reflection of their quality, then Lindholm brings them a lot closer.
The Flames are rightfully early sellers even if the standings suggest that’s premature. Tyler Toffoli was traded over the summer, and Nikita Zadorov went to Vancouver early in the season. Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev join Lindholm as pending unrestricted free agents. The team is underwhelming for a second straight season. The makeup needs a shake-up.
For Vancouver’s purposes, Andrei Kuzmenko represents a salary dump and house-cleaning of a player who had fallen out of favor with head coach Rick Tocchet. He could end up being found money for Calgary.
Kuzmenko scored 39 goals and added 35 assists in 81 games in his debut NHL season for Vancouver. He would have been one of the top players available at the 2023 trade deadline had the Canucks not opted to sign him to a two-year,