Best Elias Lindholm destinations if he leaves Canucks in free agency

Elias Lindholm could be in-demand this summer.

Elias Lindholm pondering whether to leave the Canucks in NHL Free Agency.

Elias Lindholm entered the 2023-24 NHL season as one of the top trade candidates on the market. The Calgary Flames were struggling to remain in the Stanley Cup Playoffs race. And with the veteran forward set to hit NHL Free Agency, a trade seemed inevitable. Eventually, the Vancouver Canucks came calling.

At first, it seemed like a perfect fit. Lindholm is one of the better two-way centers in the league when he’s on his game. He is exceptional in the defensive zone. And he’s shown the ability to put up high-level offensive numbers. Especially when surrounded by good linemates.

However, things didn’t go as planned during the regular season. A wrist injury prevented Lindholm from truly finding his footing. As a result, he didn’t perform as expected. The 29-year-old scored just 12 points in 26 games down the stretch for Vancouver.

That said, he did bounce back during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Lindholm scored five goals and 10 points in 13 playoff games. The Canucks made it to the second round of the playoffs before they fell to the Edmonton Oilers in seven games.

Lindholm is set to enter NHL Free Agency, and he could earn a big contract on the open market. A number of teams will be interested in the veteran center. And with that in mind, here are the best destinations for Elias Lindholm should he leave the Canucks this summer.

Sabres could be a darkhorse

Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Lindholm (23) handles the puck against the Edmonton Oilers during the second period in game five of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena.Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
The Buffalo Sabres missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs despite high expectations. Buffalo missed the postseason by one point in 2023. And their young core looked poised to take a step forward this year. However, the Sabres finished sixth in the Atlantic Division behind the Detroit Red Wings.

The Sabres still have a solid young core in place. But they could certainly use an experienced scoring option. Lindholm can come in and help the team’s young wingers immediately. He is also responsible in his defensive zone and may be one of Buffalo’s best defensive forwards.

The Sabres have salary cap space to work with. Buffalo is projected to have north of $23 million to spend this summer. And they can clear more if they need to. Overall, they have the roster space and financial capability to sign Elias Lindholm to a long-term deal this summer.

Stars may need a center

The Dallas Stars are still recovering from a crushing defeat in the Western Conference Finals. Dallas has fallen short of the Stanley Cup Final for the second consecutive year. And the Stars could potentially lose a few key pieces to their roster in NHL Free Agency.

The Stars may have a hole at center this offseason. Matt Duchene is hitting the open market after signing a one-year deal in 2023. He put up 67 points for Dallas this season and should certainly get a big raise this offseason. Dallas certainly wants to keep Duchene. But if he leaves, the Stars need to find a new second-line center.

As a result, the Stars could turn to Elias Lindholm. It’s unknown whether they would be interested in a long-term deal. But they have nearly $16 million in cap space for NHL Free Agency. Lindholm would certainly be a great fit if the two sides can work out a deal.

Bruins have long-standing interest in Elias Lindholm

The Boston Bruins have wanted to add center depth since last summer. Boston lost David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron to retirement in 2023. Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle have played well in the top six. But an upgrade is certainly needed if the Bruins want to go further.

Boston has had a longstanding interest in Lindholm, as well. Rumors indicated they were interested in trading with him before the Flames sent him to Vancouver. Even after that trade, Boston reportedly negotiated a three-team deal involving the 29-year-old ahead of the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline. Obviously, this trade did not materialize, and the Bruins refrained from adding a center before the deadline.

Now, they don’t need to give up premium assets. The Bruins simply need to work out a contract with the former Canucks star. And they should have more than enough cap space to do so. Even with a Jeremy Swayman extension on the horizon.

The Bruins have nearly $21 million in projected salary cap space for NHL Free Agency. With a Linus Ullmark trade likely, they could add another $5 million in cap space. Boston is more than capable of signing Elias Lindholm to a long-term contract. And the fit between the two sides could not be more perfect.

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