Elias Lindholm started the week of February 21st being named the NHL’s first star of the week. The most notable thing that earned him this recognition was points in every game of the nine-game win streak the Flames were in at that point in time.
While this is a massive accomplishment and a pretty high-level recognition for the 27-year-old forward, it is just a sliver of the recognition that should be placed on his play in the last few seasons.
Elias Lindholm came to the Flames in the 2018-19 season in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes involving the acquisition of Lindholm and Noah Hanifin in exchange for Michael Ferland, Dougie Hamilton, and Adam Fox.
Lindholm’s move to Calgary quickly earned him a spot on the top line alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. While some line shuffling and experimentation with other linemates has taken place over the years, the one thing that has mostly remained consistent is that Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm make an electric duo.
This season, they have been partnered with Matthew Tkachuk and while Tkachuk and Gaudreau have been getting all the attention as one of the NHL’s top duos, there is also a lot of credit to be handed to their other linemate.
Elias Lindholm needs more credit.
In his last four seasons with the Flames, Lindholm has produced outstanding scoring numbers with margins pretty close to a point per game average. Here’s how his stat lines looked going into this season.
2018-19: 81 games played, 27 goals, 51 assists, 78 total points
2019-20: 70 games played, 29 goals, 25 assists, 54 total points
2020-21: 56 games played, 19 goals, 28 assists, 47 total points
At this point in the 2021-22 season, he is sitting at exactly a point per game average with 23 goals, 28 assists for a total of 51 points in 51 games. He has already exceeded his production from last year with five fewer games played.
However, in his time as a Flame he is naturally overshadowed by other top Flames like Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Jacob Markstrom and formally Mark Giordano. At this point, he should be right in the conversation with those guys and should be well known across the league.
So why isn’t he? Having too many All-Star caliber players is a very good problem to have, especially when your team is favoring a strong performance come postseason play. In the very literal way of things, there simply are not enough spaces at the All-Star game.
Lindholm has played in a way that has earned him a ballot spot for this game multiple times but never selected. Not that the All-Star game is the one and only way to be recognized in the league, but Lindholm appears to lack the household recognition to earn enough votes to go.
He is not the most flashy player. Lindholm can pull out the moves, but you see his linemates on the highlight reels and top plays the most and in the ways of sports, that’s how casual fans get to know you.
However, to his advantage, not being the most recognizable guy on a team also gives you an edge to slip past your opponents. Lindholm does not need to be the star of the Flames, he needs to be what he has been this whole time. A certain line of reliability Flames fans and personnel have learned to trust in his last four seasons.
When Gaudreau, Monahan, Tkachuk, Mangiapane, Backlund and company go quiet, Lindholm will score a timely goal, set up a drought-breaking goal or bring energy to his game that will lift his teammates up. Lindholm is all-in for Calgary.
If you’ve seen his Instagram at all, you can tell he loves this team as much as he loves the city. He’s always pumping up his teammates and sharing post-game photos reflecting on the games, win or lose and expressing his content for the fanbase.
In the first post-game interview after news broke of his player of the week recognition, Lindholm deflected the credit to his linemates and a sense of feeling his game right now. He said,
"“When you’re feeling it, you feel like you have a chance on every shot going in.”"
A little bit of chatter around Elias Lindholm being in the Selke conversation could lead to further recognition of his play this year but at the very least, the Flames are much better with number 28 on their top line.