Elias Lindholm trade: How Canucks’ huge deal impacts Bruins

Elias Lindholm trade: How Canucks’ huge deal impacts Bruins originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Vancouver Canucks were involved in the biggest deal before the 2023 NHL trade deadline when they sent star center Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders. And on Wednesday night, they were involved in the biggest deal before the 2024 NHL trade deadline (so far), but this time Vancouver was the team getting the best player in the deal.

The Canucks acquired top-six center Elias Lindholm from the Calgary Flames in exchange for forward Andrei Kuzmenko, prospects Hunter Brzustewicz and Joni Jurmo, and a first-round and conditional fourth-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft. It was a steep price to pay (more on that below) for the best player rumored to be available.

Now that Lindholm is off the market, maybe the action will start to ramp up around the league. We haven’t seen a ton of trades — or even rumors — to this point. The trade deadline is scheduled for March 8.

Here are four ways the Lindholm trade impacts the Boston Bruins.

Trade deadline prices might be too high

Maybe the Canucks are a little more desperate than most teams and that’s why they paid a price higher than some expected for Lindholm. The Canucks are tied with the Bruins for the league’s top record, but they haven’t been this good in a while. Vancouver also has never won the Stanley Cup, so it’s no surprise the franchise is being aggressive.

But if the price paid for Lindholm is indicative of what it’ll take to get other top players rumored to be available, maybe it’s best the Bruins chase depth additions rather than trying to land any big fish.

Even though it’s difficult to give a direct equivalent to what the Bruins would’ve had to give up for Lindholm based on the Canucks’ package, something including Jake DeBrusk or Trent Frederic, a top prospect such as Mason Lohrei or Matthew Poitras, a 2025 first-round pick and maybe another mid-round pick or lower-tier prospect would probably be pretty close.

That kind of package would’ve been way too much for the B’s to give up, especially when you consider Frederic has outscored Lindholm at even strength this season and is four years younger.

Unless the Bruins trade back into the 2024 first round, they will go five of the last seven drafts (2018 through 2024) without a first-round pick. This is why the B’s should only trade a first-round pick if they are getting back a player in his prime who will be here long term, similar to the Hampus Lindholm trade and subsequent extension in 2022.

Lindholm is a very good two-way player and would’ve been a nice on-ice fit on the Bruins, but the asking price was far too steep. The Canucks also need to re-sign Lindholm, who can become a free agent in the summer and could get between $7-9.5 million per year on his next contract.

A middle-six center/wing and a physical veteran defenseman are the Bruins’ top needs before the trade deadline. Beefing up the depth on the blue line is probably more of a priority, especially if Derek Forbort‘s nagging injury doesn’t improve. Boston could use more size, truculence and penalty killing ability on the back end.

Lindholm didn’t go to an East contender

Lindholm staying in the Western Conference was the best-case scenario for the Bruins. They won’t see him and the Canucks in the playoffs unless these teams meet in the Stanley Cup Final — and wouldn’t that be fun!

But it’s good for the Bruins that Lindholm didn’t go to one of their top competitors in the Eastern Conference, such as the Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes or New York Rangers. All four of those teams could have used a forward of Lindholm’s caliber.

Bruins play Canucks twice in February

If we assume Lindholm will make his Canucks debut after the All-Star break on Feb. 6 in Carolina, then his second game for Vancouver could happen in Boston on Feb. 8. It’s the first and only time the Canucks will visit TD Garden in the regular season.

These teams also will play in Vancovuer just 14 days later on Feb. 22. That matchup is part of the Bruins’ four-game road trip through Western Canada and Seattle.

These two games against the Canucks will give the Bruins another good look at how they stack up against the league’s top teams. If the Bruins struggle, maybe that changes how Sweeney will attack the March 8 trade deadline.

Flames open for business?

The Flames are five points out of a playoff spot, which is nowhere near an insurmountable deficit at this stage of the season. But now that Lindholm is gone, it’s fair to wonder if Calgary is now truly open for business.

They have a couple other players who might be of interest to contending teams.

The top one is probably Noah Hanifin. The veteran defenseman has been linked to the Bruins in the past. He’s from Norwood, Mass., and played at Boston College. The 27-year-old veteran is a very good two-way player. He has tallied 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in 49 games while playing 23:59 per game. Hanifin can play in any situation. He’d be a huge upgrade for the Bruins’ blue line.

However, Hanifin can become an unrestricted free agent this summer. So, would the Bruins want to give up premium assets to acquire him now when they can just sign him in the offseason?

You could make a strong case for both scenarios, but given the fact the Bruins are again a top contender in the East, it’s probably best to make the deal now — assuming it’s something the Bruins event want do to. There haven’t been any recent Hanifin/Bruins rumors since the start of the 2023-24 season.