High price or not, could the main factor in the Boston Bruins not landing the top center on the NHL trade market have been the lack of a contract extension?
This past Wednesday, the Calgary Flames traded center Elias Lindholm to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for forward Andrei Kuzmenko, a 2024 first round pick, prospects Hunter Brzustewicz and Joni Jurmo, as well as a conditional 2024 fourth round pick.
Elias Lindholm, who is in the final season of a six-year, $29.1 million contract that carried a $4.8 million salary cap hit, has nine goals and 14 assists in 49 games this season. He was recently named to his first NHL All-Star Game. Lindholm is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Sportsnet NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman believes there was one team that dropped out of the NHL Trade sweepstakes for the 29-year-old pivot due to Lindholm being a rental.
“There was one team that was not willing to make the deal without an extension, and I don’t know this for sure, but to me, that screams Boston. Because Boston has a need for the player,” Friedman said on the latest 32 Thoughts podcast. “They did it with Hampus Lindholm. They like to get guys signed, and the other thing about Boston, one of the things about them this year – and they’re having a really good year – they went all in last year.
Sweeney pushed the chips in last year. …you can’t do that every year. You can not do that every year, and my read of the situation, again, this is my opinion, but I believe it’s an informed opinion because of the way they do business. I would be shocked if that team weren’t Boston without an extension, and if Lindholm hits the market this summer, I think the Bruins are going to be in there.”
Friedman’s co-host, Jeff Marek, then pointed out that the Bruins tried hard at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft to trade up and draft Lindholm, who went fifth overall to the Carolina Hurricanes, whose general manager at the time was current Canucks President of Hockey Operations, Jim Rutherford.
Friedman’s theory makes a ton of sense, and it’s pretty clear that Sweeney still wants to improve the Bruins’ depth up the middle for the present and the future. The Bruins resume their 2023-24 season on Tuesday when they begin a seven-game homestand against those Lindholm-less Flames. As the season revs up even more, it appears that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has already been busy trying to give the best team in the Eastern Conference a boost for the stretch run.
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