logo

The Canucks’ offensive acquisition turned defensive specialist, Elias Lindholm: Year in Review

alt
Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Cole
18 days ago
Be sure to check out the latest NHL playoff odds with online sportsbook Betway.
It was a chaotic start to the year for Elias Lindholm and the Calgary Flames. With one year remaining on Lindholm’s six-year, $29.1M contract, the team and player had a decision to make: would they sign an extension, or would both parties move on?
After reportedly rejecting long-term $8-9M AAV deal, the writing was on the wall that Lindholm would move on after the season. With multiple upcoming free agents, the Flames had no choice but to trade the Swedish centreman. But with nine goals and 32 points in 49 games, Lindholm didn’t do himself or the Flames any favours.
This was when Patrik Allvin and Jim Rutherford decided to be aggressive by setting the trade market and pouncing on Elias Lindholm.
And on January 31st, the two sides reached an agreement to send Lindholm to the Canucks. In return, the Canucks sent forward Andrei Kuzmenko, defensive prospects Hunter Brzustewicz, Joni Jurmo and a pair of 2024 draft picks, Vancouver’s first and New Jersey Devils fourth round.
The trade made sense for the Vancouver Canucks, as the club desperately needed some help in their top six, especially a running mate for Elias Pettersson. Kuzmenko was in Rick Tocchet’s doghouse because of his poor defensive play and inevitable regressed shooting percentage. On the other wing was Ilya Mikheyev, riding a 17-game scoreless drought.
“I feel our top-six needed to improve a little bit with a calibre player like Elias. To find more consistency going down the stretch,” Allvin told the media after acquiring Lindholm. “It’s coming down to tough, tough matchups, and that’s where you need your four lines to be strong in the two-way game.”
“I felt that giving us a right-shot centre, a player that has competed at the highest level for years and being a really solid 200-foot player, makes us harder to play against and gives our coaching staff more options in the top-six,” Allvin added.
And the Canucks GM was right; Lindholm brought an element to the roster they didn’t have before. He’s an elite right-shot faceoff man who can play the matchup centreman role while excelling offensively and as a net-front presence on the powerplay.
Lindholm started his Canucks tenure skating alongside Pettersson. At first, it looked like a beautiful duo. In his Canucks debut, Lindholm scored a tip-in powerplay goal, assisted by Pettersson, against the team that drafted him, the Carolina Hurricanes. But that magic connection Canucks fans were hoping for quickly wore off.
It was clear to management that the duo wasn’t working. Lindholm had two goals and four points and finished with a minus-five rating at 5-on-5 in 11 games. At this point, the club recognized they preferred Lindholm to play down the middle of the ice.
This decision led to a decrease in average ice time and playing with bottom-six and fringe NHL players like Sam Lafferty, Arshdeep Bains and Vasily Podkolzin. In the following 12 games, Lindholm scored just one goal and two assists and completely transformed his role from Pettersson’s top-six winger to a shutdown third-line centre to take faceoffs.
While all these role-player types are needed on a successful team, it was a rich price to pay for the Canucks.
Lindholm would miss the next seven games with an upper-body injury. However, he rounded out his season on a three-game point streak once he returned. Now, was that due to Lindholm returning to full health? Or because he played in between one of the Canucks most dynamic duos, Dakota Joshua and Conor Garland?
Nonetheless, Lindholm left Canucks fans underwhelmed with the performance of their deadline acquisition. He scored six goals and 12 points in 26 regular season games with a minus-six rating. However, the aforementioned Joshua and Garland helped Lindholm flip the script come playoff time.
The former first-round pick opened the scoring for the Canucks early in the second period of Game 1 against the Nashville Predators. In the same game, Lindholm’s heavy forecheck caused the turnover that led to the eventual game-winning goal.
And who could forget the opening-minute overtime goal after yet another heroic late comeback against the Predators?
While Lindholm finished this series with just three points, he played a pivotal role in shutting down one of the most lethal lines in the regular season: Filip Forsberg, Ryan O’Reilly and Gustav Nyquist. Lindholm and his line held the trio to just two 5-on-5 goals throughout the series.
The series against the Edmonton Oilers was a different story. J.T. Miller assumed the shutdown role against Connor McDavid, leaving Lindholm and his line to flourish more offensively. The Swede averaged a point per game in that series while not allowing a goal at 5-on-5.
It’s not all about the statistics with Lindholm. He was a first-over-the-board type penalty killer for the Canucks during the playoffs, averaging the second most (2:27) ice time of all forwards. But, maybe the most valuable asset he brought was his faceoff ability. Lindholm led the team with a 58.7% faceoff percentage and was responsible for all faceoff duties on the right side.
With his contract set to expire on July 1st, Lindholm was asked about his future in Vancouver in the players’ exit interviews.
“[In the] Next couple days, I’ll talk to my agent and go from there. It’s still pretty fresh and I haven’t really put a thought into it. Obviously I really enjoyed my time here, we’ll see what happens. There’s a really good group here, a lot of good players.”
It was reported that the Canucks offered Lindholm a 7×7, which he rejected. Lindholm projects to be the number one centreman available on the free agent market this offseason and will likely benefit from more money annually.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman later added that the belief is the Canucks have conceded that Lindholm will likely leave in free agency. And why wouldn’t he? This is likely the last big ticket of his career, with a chance to play wherever he wants and higher in the lineup.
There was a lot left to be desired for Lindholm’s regular season in Vancouver. However, he elevated his game to the next level when it mattered in the playoffs. And while he may not have found success alongside Pettersson, Lindholm found the perfect role in the Canucks lineup.
How would you describe Elias Lindholm’s tenure in Vancouver, Canucks fans?
Presented by Betway

Check out these posts...