Photo courtesy of Sports Forecaster.
The Calgary Flames, who have struggled in 2023-2024 going 23-22-5 and are currently in 6th place in the Pacific Division, have started moving assets to start to reload for next season. They have traded center Elias Lindholm to Vancouver for winger Andrei Kuzmenko, young defensemen Hunter Brzustewicz and Joni Jurmo, a 2024 first round pick, and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2024.
The Canucks are 34-11-5 and lead the Pacific Division by 7 points over the Vegas Golden Knights. GM Jim Rutherford has made it known that he is willing to add to this roster and has one of the best minor league systems in the league. Lindholm is 29-years-old and is an effective two-way player who has scored as many as 42 goal, doing so in the 2021-2022 season. This season, he has scored 11 goals and has 23 assists but has been a constant presence in his own end and is a tough player to skate against. With the talent that Vancouver has up the middle with Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller, it appears that the Canucks will move Lindholm to right wing to play with Pettersson and Ilya Mikheyev.
He plays one of the better 200-foot games in the NHL and is on the short list of possible Selke finalists. He has the ability to play on both special teams and can play big minutes night in and night out.
Draft Nation Stats- First round pick (5th overall) by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2013
The Calgary Flames are rumored to be in selling mode and Elias Lindholm appears to be just the first of many who could be dealt. Defensemen Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin are two such players where rumors are beginning to churn. General Manager Craig Conroy is looking to reshape the Flames' organization with younger talent by adding draft picks to the 2024 pool.
Kuzmenko is coming off a huge rookie season in 2022-2023 with Vancouver. He scored 39 goals and had 35 assists in 81 games but has struggled to put up the same numbers in 2024. In 43 games this season, the 28-year-old winger has scored 8 goals and 13 assists. The thought in Calgary is that Kuzmenko can get a fresh start and play a more free wheeling game like he did when he played under Bruce Boudreau. Since Rick Tocchet has taken over the Russian winger has struggled to play his style of game and should be able to get back to what worked for him under newly named Flames coach Ryan Huska. Calgary has him penciled on the first line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Yegor Sharangovich.
Kuzmenko was on the older side as a rookie last season at 27-years-old but was able to transition from Russian Hockey to the NHL. He has an unbelievable shot that he releases quickly with lots of power and has a knack for being in the right spot at the right time in the crease.
Draft Nation Stats- Signed by the Vancouver Canucks in 2022.
Hunter Brzustewicz is a 19-year-old defenseman who plays for the Kitchener Rangers and has some solid potential for the Flames down the road. He is a smart hockey player with above average skating and does an efficient job at moving the puck. On the downside, he does not get much behind his shot and he needs to get stronger and needs a better understanding of defensive duties.
Draft Nation Stats- 3rd Round pick in 2023 by the Vancouver Canucks
Joni Jurmo is another defenseman the Flames obtained in this trade. He is 6’3” and 190 lbs. and plays a physical style of hockey. He can also be a positive in the offensive end with a hard slapshot and the ability to move the puck. He has the capability to become a complete defenseman but needs to work on his decision making and shore up his defensive end.
Draft Nation Stats- 3rd Round Pick in 2020 by the Vancouver Canucks