How NHL star helped sell Rick Tocchet on massive Elias Lindholm trade to Canucks

NHL: NHL All-Star Thursday
Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO – Rick Tocchet wanted to know what exactly the Vancouver Canucks were getting when they traded for Elias Lindholm on Wednesday. So, the Canucks coach turned to a star NHL player to get an honest take. And Tocchet loved what he heard.

“I texted Matthew Tkachuk and I asked him, because he played with [Lindholm], ‘What do you think? What about this guy?’ And he said he loved him,” Tocchet shared at NHL All-Star Media Day here on Thursday. “When Matthew Tkachuk says he loves a guy, you know he’s a good player.”

Tkachuk and Lindholm were teammates with the Calgary Flames fort four seasons from 2018-22 until Tkachuk was traded to the Florida Panthers prior to the 2022-23 season.

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Vancouver Canucks acquire Elias Lindholm from Calgary Flames

The Canucks traded forward Andrei Kuzmenko, two prospects and two draft picks, including a first-round selection in the 2024 NHL Draft, to the Flames for Lindholm, who can be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

“He’s a big piece, right? He fits a puzzle for us,” Tocchet explained. “To win, you need those guys that will play 200 feet that can also score and can also defend. That’s kind of the identity we try to play this way this year.”

Tocchet added that the 29-year-old forward is a “Jack of all trades” in that he can play center or either wing like Canucks forward Elias Pettersson, “a luxury for us.” 

Lindholm heard of the trade when returning to Calgary after a quick getaway to Mexico.

“Mid-flight I somehow got some [cell phone] service and I was peppered with some text messages and phone calls, so I was traded halfway back to Calgary,” Lindholm said with a chuckle.

Lindholm said he was “super excited” about the trade, one that brings him to the top team in the Western Conference. The Canucks (33-11-5) are 8-0-2 in their past 10 games and have a whopping plus-59 goal differential. The Flames (22-22-5) are five points out of a playoff spot in the West and likely will be selling off players ahead of the NHL trade deadline.

“To join Vancouver, one of the best teams  in the League right now, so many good players, good goaltending, good defensemen, they’ve done a really good job this year, so far, so I can’t wait to get started,” Lindholm said.

Just two seasons ago, Lindholm had an NHL career-high 42 goals and 82 points playing on a line with Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau. Now, all three have departed the Flames.

“We had a good run, had a lot of fun playing with those guys,” he explained.

Lindholm has 32 points (nine goals, 23 assists) in 49 games this season. He’s won 55.5 percent of his face-offs and is averaging an NHL career-high 20:44 in ice time.

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