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THE MOJ: Lindholm trade means the Canucks are all in this year

It’s the right player and the right message at the right time for Vancouver
Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm (28) and Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Kaedan Korczak (6) chase the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

The Vancouver Canucks are all in.

The organization sent notice to the National Hockey League late Wednesday night that they are pushing all their chips to the middle of the table by acquiring forward Elias Lindholm from the Calgary Flames.

The Canucks gave up several assets in the deal as Andrei Kuzmenko, Hunter Brzustewicz, Joni Jurmo, a first-round pick and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft were sent to Calgary to acquire Lindholm.

Despite the price paid, you have to love the deal for several reasons.

Simply put, the Canucks get better in the process.

The only player they gave up on the active roster was Kuzmenko, who has been an enigma this season. The Russian forward has only managed 8 goals and 13 assists for 21 points in 43 games after an impressive 39-goal season in 2023-24.

Kuzmenko just couldn’t get it going this year and his style didn’t seem to mesh with what Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet wanted from his players as the Russian wound up being a healthy scratch on six different occasions.

Lindholm hasn’t exactly had a stellar campaign by his standards but he has still been productive and perhaps a change in scenery will rejuvenate him.

In 43 games this season with the Flames, Lindholm has 9 goals and 23 assists for 32 points – which is close to last year’s pace in which he recorded 64 points but off the pace of his 2022-23 season in which he accumulated 82 points.

Regardless of his offensive production, Lindholm is viewed as a solid defensive player and will provide the Canucks with a 200-foot game.

He’s also a great fit on this team for a variety of reasons.

With Kuzmenko’s production falling off, the Canucks have been desperately seeking someone to jump into a top-six forward role this season with no one really coming forward to seize that opportunity.

Lindholm checks that box.

He also gives Tocchet and the coaching staff options and versatility whether it comes to the power play setup where Lindholm can play the bumper or be a net front guy. Lindholm also becomes the top penalty kill option among forwards and is solid in the face-off circle as well. The presence of the 29-year-old Swede now allows Tocchet to move either J.T. Miller or Elias Pettersson to the wing should he choose.

Then there are the secondary benefits of the transaction.

Acquiring Lindholm sends a message to the Canucks room that the coaching staff and management believe in this team and that they will do whatever is possible to improve the hockey club. This trade will definitely provide the room with a little juice when the team reconvenes after the All-Star break.

There is also the fact that Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford and General Manager Patrik Allvin made the deal now rather than wait until the March 8 NHL trade deadline.

If you’re doing the math, that’s an additional 16 games that the Canucks get the services of Lindholm. That’s 16 additional games of him acclimatizing to the team and the team acclimatizing to him. And if Lindholm can be the difference in one or two games, those points will be invaluable as the Canucks try to win the Western Conference.

Finally, there is the economics of the trade.

The Canucks get more flexibility for next year by clearing Kuzmenko’s $5.5 million off the books as Lindholm will be a UFA.

As far as the price is concerned, the premium asset the Flames acquired was the first-round pick, which given the Canucks play this season, should be around the high 20’s. Yes, the Flames could get an impact player but the odds greatly decrease of landing such a player that late in the first round.

In a perfect world, Canuck Nation is hoping that the Flames will be drafting 32nd.


* Lindholm will also be participating in the NHL All-Star Game this weekend in Toronto, technically giving the Canucks six players participating in the event as he joins Pettersson, Miller, Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes and Thatcher Demko.

* The organization also announced just hours prior to the Lindholm trade on Wednesday that Allvin had come to terms with the organization on a three-year contract extension that coincides with the deal that Rutherford just signed.

* On a sad note, former Canuck defenceman Glen Cochrane passed away in Kelowna on Jan. 13 due to cancer. Cochrane was a rugged player who eclipsed the 300 PM mark three times during his playing career. He spent nine seasons in the NHL with Philadelphia (1978-85), Vancouver (1985-87), Chicago (1987-89) and Edmonton (1988-89).

* After hockey, Cochrane became a scout with the Anaheim Ducks. He was a participant in this agent’s golf tournament where we would always chat about his days with the WHL’s Victoria Cougars and some of those classic games against my beloved New Westminster Bruins. Jan. 29 would have been Glen’s 66th birthday. He will be missed.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media.

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