Digging into the trade between the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
5 months ago
So much for the rivalry between these two Pacific Division foes. The Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks have linked up for their second trade of the season. 
On Wednesday evening, Elliotte Friedman reported that the Flames and Canucks were coming together on a trade that would send Elias Lindholm to Vancouver, the top team in the Western Conference standings. Not long after, the deal broke, as Lindholm was moved to Vancouver in exchange for forward Andrei Kuzmenko, a couple of prospects, and two draft picks.
The immediate reaction to this trade is that it isn’t a very good one for the Canucks. Lindholm is having far from his best season season, with just nine goals and 32 points over the course of 49 games. That’s a considerable decline from the 42 goals and 82 points he scored during the 2021-22 season while playing with Matt Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau.
Not just that, but Lindholm has a cap hit of $4.85 million cap hit and will be a free agent at season’s end. It’s been reported that Lindholm will want something like eight or nine million in annual cap hit when signing a new deal, so Vancouver will struggle to sign him.
And then we come to the assets that were given up by the Canucks, in total, they sent five. They gave up this year’s first-round pick, which could very well wind up being somewhere in the early 20s because the Canucks have next to no playoff experience. Another draft pick they sent is a conditional 2024 fourth-rounder that will become a third-round pick if they reach the Western Conference Final. 
They also moved two defence prospects, Hunter Brzustewicz and Joni Jurmo, whom the team had selected in the third round of the 2023 and 2020 drafts, respectively. Brzustewicz has eight goals and 69 points in 47 games with the Ontario Hockey League’s Kitchener Rangers. He’s third in points for all of OHL scoring and leads the league in defenceman scoring. Jurmo is 21 years old and playing professionally in Finland. The 6’3″ blueliner has a goal and three points in 34 games this season. 
Lastly, the Canucks sent over a player that was a key part of their team last season, Andrei Kuzmenko. This was ultimately to balance salary, as the left-winger has a cap hit of $5.5 million until the end of the 2024-25 season. It’s been a rough season for the 27-year-old, as he has just a goal and 21 points in 43 games and has been a healthy scratch multiple times. 
However, it’s believed that the Flames see Kuzmenko as a rebound candidate, just as they did with Yegor Sharangovich, who they acquired in return for Tyler Toffoli last year. In his first full season with Calgary, Sharangovich is tied for the team lead in goals with 20. Kuzemenko finished the 2022-23 season with 39 goals and 74 points in 81 games, but also had an insane 27.3 shooting percentage, so it’s difficult to say if he’ll be able to find that level of production again. 
This isn’t a terrible deal for Vancouver, but it’s a lot to give up for a pending free agent who isn’t having a great season. If Lindholm finds his game and helps Vancouver advance deep into the playoffs, nobody will worry much about Brzustewicz or the first-round draft pick. But if they cool off and get bounced in the first round, this will wind up being a deal the Canucks will want to forget. Of course, it’s also worth noting that the Canucks got themselves out from under a significant salary cap commitment to Kuzmenko for the 2024-25 season, giving them added flexibility come the off-season.
From Edmonton’s perspective, though Vancouver is risking quite a bit here and there’s a possibility it blows up in their face, this deal ultimately sees one Pacific Division rival get better and one get worse. The Canucks are a team the Oilers might have to face come playoff time and swapping out Kuzmenko for Lindholm should make them a stronger team.

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