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Key Flames Players Non-Committal to Staying As Contracts Close

Neither Elias Lindholm or Mikael Backlund would offer much in the way of reassurance they saw themselves sticking with the Calgary Flames.

Both Mikael Backlund and Elias Lindholm aren’t ready to commit to staying with the Calgary Flames when their current contracts expire. Speaking with the media this week, and following a disappointing season that was filled with rumored friction between the players and the coach, both were asked if they’d consider opening talks this summer on extending their respective contracts past next season. Neither were ready to commit to doing so.

Mikael Backlund Elias Lindholm Calgary Flames
Mikael Backlund Elias Lindholm Calgary Flames

In Backlund’s case, the question was followed by a lengthy pause. He then said, “Ah, it’s kind of… we’ll see what happens.” He noted, “I’ve been here a long time, and I love Calgary, and I love this organization.” However, he followed that with, “But the year we had… I’m 34 years old. I want to win the Stanley Cup.”

Calgary came close but fell apart this season after making significant roster changes that didn’t click as expected. Now there are questions about the GM, the coach, and many of the players. Backlund talked about the uncertainty in Calgary and what will happen with the team. He said, “I don’t know, this summer, what’s going to happen, or even if they offer us, or me, anything.” He continued, “I might want to see what this group can do before I make a decision.”

Not alone in his uncertainty, Lindholm also wouldn’t give much in the way of reassurance that he would be looking to stick around. He responded when asked, “We’ll see what happens. I’ve got one more year, and that’s all I can say.”

Both are just two of the seven players the Flames will need to make decisions on in the next few months. Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev, Tyler Toffoli, Nikita Zadorov, and Oliver Kylington all need new contracts in the next year if they’re going to be staying but all will have the chance to test the waters elsewhere. This season it’s Milan Lucic. In all cases but Lucic, any of these players not committing could lead to trade speculation.

When Matthew Tkachuk informed the team he wouldn’t be sticking around last season, the Flames immediately traded the forward to the Florida Panthers in what appeared to be a great deal for Calgary. Things didn’t quite work out that way but the team was able to recoup assets that should be better next season. Will the Flames look to move Lindholm or Backlund if their attitude toward the team doesn’t change? The answer is, probably, yes.

Not all players will want to leave. Toffoli has already mentioned his interest in staying and has said extension talks have taken place.

Next: Keys to Winning Round One for the Lightning & the Maple Leafs

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