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Why re-signing Elias Lindholm just doesn’t make sense for the Vancouver Canucks

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Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
22 days ago
This article is a presentation of HelpStartsHere.gov.bc.ca
In a perfect world, the Vancouver Canucks would start the 2024-25 schedule with the three centres they finished this past season with. But it’s not a perfect world and for that reason — and others — it’s unlikely the Canucks will be able to retain the services of pending unrestricted free agent Elias Lindholm. The 29-year-old Swede will be looking to cash in on the open market and as things stand right now looks to be one of the most sought after commodities who will be shopping his skills when National Hockey League free agency opens on July 1st.
Lindholm provided the Canucks with everything they were looking for in the playoffs when he scored five times and added five assists, ably handled difficult match-ups, won key face-offs and logged big minutes on the penalty kill. That was in stark contrast to his regular season contributions when he wasn’t terribly productive, struggled to find chemistry with teammates, battled through a wrist injury and looked like the Canucks grossly overpaid to get him in a January 31st trade with Calgary. But the deal was never about the regular season. It was done with eye to helping the Canucks get on a playoff run and Lindholm was certainly a contributor in the opening round against Nashville and carried that into the seven-game showdown with Edmonton.
But as the team turns the page on last season and starts to allocate money to build out next season’s roster, Lindholm looks like a piece the Canucks simply won’t be able to afford. Can he command $8 million on a long-term deal? Could the Canucks get him at $7.5M? And even if they could convince Lindholm to take any sort of discount, do they want to commit to a player that will turn 30 in early December who totalled 15 goals and 44 points across 75 league games with two teams this season? With Elias Pettersson’s new $11.6M per season contract kicking in and JT Miller earning $8M a season, it seems highly unlikely to think the club can operate with three centres making whatever it will take to retain Lindholm. And it hardly seems to make sense to have one of those three as the third line centre at his price point. That feels like money that could — and should — be spent elsewhere to address the needs of the hockey club.
Whether it’s an internal option like Pius Suter or finding a cost-effective third-line centre in free agency, the Canucks need to consider a world without Lindholm. They’ll miss the many traits he brought in the post-season along with the fact he was the club’s only right-shot centre. But this is a team that has difficult decisions to make about its defence corps with only three blueliners currently under contract for next season and as the playoffs proved the Canucks also need to add at least one proven scoring winger. Additionally, the dead money on the books as a result of the Oliver Ekman-Larsson buyout increases to $2.34M next season and then tops out at $4.77M in the two years that follow. So the Canucks have to take that into account as they try to reconcile their books.
Lindholm seemed to enjoy his brief time in Vancouver and it was clear from his usage that head coach Rick Tocchet valued the versatility that the veteran centre afforded the Canucks. However, the club is in no position to be committing big dollars and years of term to a player who will likely struggle to deliver value even in the early portion of such a contract. And that’s the challenge management has on its hands. Making difficult decisions in an attempt to improve a team that won 50 games, claimed the Pacific Division title, and forced Edmonton to a seventh game in the second round of the playoffs, but doing so by moving off some of the key contributors to the mix.
Adding to the difficulty for the front office is the fact the Canucks don’t have ready-made replacements waiting in the wings. Trading first round picks in 2019, 2021, 2023 and then packaging yet another as the centrepiece of the Lindholm deal has left the Canucks without elite level prospects in the minors — particularly at centre. Maybe one day Max Sasson or Aaty Raty (although he finished the year in Abbotsford on the wing) will be ready to step in, but that seems unlikely to start next season. So the loss of Lindholm, if it happens, will certainly be felt.
But the flip side of that coin is the long-term ramifications of committing the type of money that Lindholm will want. It just doesn’t make sense for the Canucks — now or down the road. That’s why they’d be best served to move on from a player that gave them what they were looking for in the post-season, but doesn’t offer a long-term fit even with an escalating salary cap.
In the end, Elias Lindholm’s time in Vancouver was that of a pure rental. It was a gamble the club was willing to take, but it’s a sticker price that’s going to have an impact that the Canucks will have to overcome. Still, the right move is to walk away and figure out a Plan B to fill the third line centre spot.

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