Elias Lindholm says he'd be willing to remain with Flames

After reportedly asking for a trade earlier this summer, the Calgary Flames center has changed his tune, telling a Swedish newspaper he would stay.

With a contract year on the horizon, Elias Lindholm has indicated that he could potentially return to the Calgary Flames.

On the other hand, however, Lindholm remained largely non-committal on the status of negotiations, noting that free agency remained a possibility if things don’t go “as planned.”

“I am willing to stay. Then my agent and Calgary take care of most of it. There is a lot we have to agree on, but I have said that I can imagine staying," Lindholm said in a Swedish-language interview with Hockeysvirge’s Ronnie Rönnkvist. "After that, the agent and Calgary get to fix the rest. Then we’ll see if it works out or not."

With the departures of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk still stinging Flames management and fans, some are keying in on the pivot's mention of being “willing to stay.” Indeed, it's certainly eye-catching given the Swede's reported preference just a few short months ago to be traded by Calgary.

"I have one year left, but if it doesn’t go as I have planned, I will become a free agent. Nothing strange about that," he added. "We will see what happens.”

Hope is good, but there’s a risk of delaying the inevitable

While Lindholm's comments appear to be a step in the right direction, the continued uncertainty puts new Calgary Flames GM Craig Conroy in quite the pickle.

If the club believes they cannot absorb the loss of Lindholm and remain competitive, then a 'maybe' undoubtedly beats a 'no' for retaining the former 40-goal scorer. If Lindholm's answer eventually becomes a firm no, however, the Flames risk an uncomfortable repeat of Gaudreau leaving for nothing in free agency.

There's also the possibility that Calgary may just be better off knowing for certain if Lindholm is leaning toward leaving to maximize a possible trade return. With the final year of his deal looming, Lindholm projects to be one of the top options available in a loaded 2024 NHL Free Agency class and could fetch a strong return on the trade market.

Would a big Lindholm extension actually be best for the Flames?

As much as the Flames may fear being abandoned once again, there’s another uncomfortable question: Is Lindholm actually worth a big-money extension?

It’s possible Lindholm could save the Flames from themselves — especially if he drives the club to make a proactive trade rather than walking him to free agency.

Calgary may be bitter about the pair of contracts they weren't able to get done, but there's also reason to fear adding yet another albatross alongside the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri's eight- and seven-year deals signed last summer. Lindholm turns 29 in December, so it’s possible he’ll already be exiting his prime by the time his next contract kicks in.

There's understandable fear at the thought of losing Lindholm alongside fellow pending free agents Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev, and Mikael Backlund, among others, but the Flames also missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season with all of those players (not to mention Tyler Toffoli enjoying a career year).

Like Lindholm, the Flames may be wise to keep their options open.

Elias Lindholm appears to have possibly changed his tune after a report earlier this summer revealed the 28-year-old was looking to be traded. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)
Elias Lindholm appears to have possibly changed his tune after a report earlier this summer revealed the 28-year-old was looking to be traded. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)