NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2023
Are the Flames facing a no-win scenario with Elias Lindholm? What’s the latest on Shane Pinto’s contract talks with the Senators? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
THE ATHLETIC: Julian McKenzie believes the Calgary Flames could be facing a no-win situation with Elias Lindholm. While the 28-year-old center has said he’s open to a contract extension, he could have the Flames over a barrel.
If the Flames try to trade Lindholm now, only five clubs (Detroit, Nashville, Buffalo, Chicago and Anaheim) have the cap space to take on his $4.85 million cap hit for this season. Clubs like Colorado, Pittsburgh and St. Louis have already added centers this summer, further shrinking the number of possible trade partners.
Clubs in need of a center like Lindholm, such as the Boston Bruins, could be content to wait until next summer. If he becomes an unrestricted free agent, they’ll have the cap room to sign him.
McKenzie believes the summer window to trade Lindholm has closed. The next best opportunity could be the March 8 trade deadline if the Flames are out of contention by then. However, general manager Craig Conroy could face a dilemma if his club is in the playoff chase by that point.
Re-signing Lindholm will also be expensive. Despite turning 29 in December, he’ll be able to command a contract similar to Bo Horvat’s eight-year deal ($8.5 million average annual value) with the New York Islanders.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports over the summer suggest Conroy is keen is re-sign Lindholm. He might be hesitant about investing between $8.5 million and $9 million annually for eight seasons on a player who’ll turn 30 in the first season of that new contract. However, with the salary cap projected to leap to over $92 million by 2025-26, it’s a gamble that Conroy could take to keep Lindholm in the fold.
That’s assuming, of course, that Lindholm wants to stay. While he recently said what Conroy and Flames fans undoubtedly wanted to hear about a contract extension, he could be taking a wait-and-see approach for this season.
If the Flames rebound well from last season’s disappointing performance, Lindholm could be swayed into re-signing. But if they struggle again, he could feel that his chances of playing for a Stanley Cup contender and earning big money are better elsewhere. On the other hand, that scenario would make it easier for Conroy to justify moving Lindholm at the trade deadline.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators still have to get Shane Pinto under contract before training camp opens on Thursday. Last Thursday, general manager Pierre Dorion said the club is working hard at signing the 22-year-old restricted free-agent center.
Pinto doesn’t have much leverage plus he’s ineligible to receive an offer sheet from a rival club. Garrioch indicates that a couple of teams have reached out to the young center’s agent to find out what type of term and salary he’s seeking.
It’s believed those clubs were told to contact Dorion if they’re interested in making a deal. Garrioch claimed the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers have been “kicking tires” but it’s highly unlikely the Senators trade Pinto, who’s expected to fill a key role on their third line.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators’ limited salary-cap space is why there’s talk of the Senators potentially trading Pinto. They have just $900K available but a raise for Pinto coming off his entry-level contract will cost more than that. Garrioch believes he’s seeking more than the two-year, $4.2 million contract signed this summer by Morgan Frost with the Flyers.
Dorion could free up some cap space by trading a lower-salaried player. He could also go the waiver/demotion route.