Can the Vancouver Canucks re-sign Elias Lindholm?

Vancouver Canucks' Elias Lindholm celebrates with his teammates after his goal against the Edmonton Oilers during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series, in Vancouver, on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. (Ethan Cairns/CP)

When the Vancouver Canucks front office of Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin traded for Calgary Flames centre Elias Lindholm on Jan. 31, they were once again ahead of the market, making their big play over a month out from the trade deadline.

They took some risks with the Lindholm trade, parting with significant assets that early into trade season limited what other opportunities they could have seized down the road. More importantly, Lindholm is a pending unrestricted free agent — the Canucks sent away a former 39-goal scorer in Andrei Kuzmenko, prospects Hunter Brzustewicz and Joni Jurmo, and a first- and fourth-round pick for, effectively, a rental.

In his regular-season tenure with the Canucks, the 29-year-old Lindholm struggled to find his game, posting just six goals, 12 assists and a minus-six in 26 games. After a brief absence with an injury, Lindholm returned to the team and vowed to be a difference-maker in the playoffs.

True to his word, he became one of the Canucks’ best forwards in the post-season, with five goals, 10 points and a plus-four in all 13 games. He may have also played his way to the top of the priority list for Rutherford and Allvin this off-season.

All of this raises the question: Could the Canucks really take a run at re-signing the one-time 42-goal scorer?

On Wednesday’s edition of 32 Thoughts: The Podcast, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said he believes the Swedish centre may figure to be out of Vancouver’s reach, but did allow that he has come to expect the unexpected from this Canucks front office.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if they look at all of those guys, and Lindholm is the first one that I think of where they say, ‘All right. Give us a number, tell us what it’s going to be, and we’ll see if we can do it,'” Friedman said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they do something surprising to open up some room or they do something we’re not seeing to get a player they want. Or maybe they keep one guy they thought, or we thought, was going to leave or they thought they were going to lose, because they just determined, ‘You know what, this is a guy we know. We think he’s really important here and we’re going to take a bit of a bite, a bigger bite than we thought just to keep this player.’

“All I’m trying to say is that, we always think logically about what teams are going to do — with the Canucks, you have to think differently, because you know they are.”

Here is a look at where the Canucks and Lindholm stand:

Vancouver has $23,778,333 in available cap space this off-season, including $4,766,667 in dead cap from the Oliver Ekman-Larsson buyout (which jumped from $2,346,667 last season). In addition, the Canucks have nine pending UFAs and two pending RFAs.

Not all of those free agents will return to Vancouver, but those who do are likely to come with a raise.

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Lindholm’s current salary is $4.85 million and, based on market value, he can expect a raise. Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff reported last summer that he believed Lindholm was seeking a number close to $8 million. Since his offensive totals took a downturn during his contract year, it’s fair to assume that number may come down, though likely not by a significant degree.

Lindholm’s ask isn’t unreasonable, given the market for strong two-way centres. Montreal Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki is signed at $7.87 million AAV, Philadelphia Flyers captain Sean Couturier is signed at $7.75 million AAV and New Jersey Devils captain Nico Hischier is signed at $7.25 million AAV. All of these players have, like Lindholm, been in the Selke Trophy conversation.

That being said, the Swede can expect to see a number in or around that range.

If the Canucks were to sign him at, for instance, $7.85 million per year, that would eat up roughly one-third of their available cap space this off-season. Not completely out of the realm of possibility, but a tough pill to swallow for a front office that places value in cap flexibility. Consider that Brock Boeser (40 goals, 33 assists) is eligible to sign an extension on July 1, and the situation for Lindholm gets a bit murkier.

As Friedman said, though, he wouldn’t be surprised if Rutherford and Allvin made a big move to create room, much like the Ekman-Larsson buyout from last off-season gave the team room to sign key free-agents Pius Suter, Teddy Blueger and Carson Soucy.

If the Canucks are serious about a Lindholm extension, they may consider the buyout route once again. Ilya Mikheyev scored just 11 goals and 31 points in 78 games during the regular season and failed to register a single point in the playoffs, despite spending most of his time on Elias Pettersson’s wing. Making $4.75 million per year, he’s simply not putting up the numbers to justify that salary.

Should the Canucks buy out Mikheyev, they would save $3.6 million immediately, then $2.6 million in 2025-26. Short-term, it would provide a bit more relief for Vancouver this off-season and wiggle room to negotiate with Lindholm. The Canucks have until June 30 at 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT, when the buyout window closes, to make that decision.

Whichever way the dice rolls, Lindholm will be one of the most coveted free agents on the market this summer. If the Canucks want to bring him back into the blue and green, it’s going to take some sacrifice and a divine move. But, as Friedman said, anything is possible with Rutherford and Allvin at the helm.

All numbers courtesy of

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