Trade Grade on Canucks / Flames Blockbuster From a Maple Leafs Perspective

Jan 22, 2024; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Isaak Phillips (41)
Jan 22, 2024; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Isaak Phillips (41) / Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Late Wednesday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs sat passively while two teams they've been linked to in trade rumours orchestrated the second big NHL trade of 2024.

While it would have been exciting for the Toronto Maple Leafs to acquire Andrei Kuzmenko, and somewhat exciting and much more risky to acquire Elias Lindholm, it's probably better that they weren't involved.

Both players are high-risk plays, and I believe that the Leafs could make much smarter decisions. (Which is different from me saying I think that they will make smarter decisions, I just think the opportunity to do so is there).

The trade saw Calgary send Elias Lindholm to the Canucks for Andrei Kuzmenko, two B-level (or less) prospects, and a first round pick.

Trade Grade on Canucks / Flames Blockbuster From a Maple Leafs Perspective

I read a couple of mainstream publications who felt this was an even trade. Big surprise, since no one ever wants to give an opinion that could comeback to haunt them.

Lucky for you I could not care less about posterity.

This seems to me like it is a bad trade for Vancouver and a good trade for Calgary. But it was only bad for Vancouver in terms of payment. It makes their team better, so it's not an entirely bad move.

Elias is 29 and has been a consistent 40-60 point player throughout his career, who has two outlier seasons of great offense. Last year when his goal scoring production fell by half and his points totals went from 80 to 60, it was still his 3rd best season of his career.

This year he's dropped way more. Still, he's a solid player who pretty much always wins his minutes. It's just important to know he's probably overrated as a scorer unless he is getting a ton of power-play time on the first unit and playing at 5v5 with the team's best players.

He is a good acquisition and a solid rental for any team looking to get better. The reason I don't like this trade is that the Canucks are paying a first and 2 prospects, which is reasonable, but they are also giving up on Andrei Kuzmenko.

Kuzmenko scored 39 times as a rookie, and this year the Canucks are still winning his minutes. Last year he had a Expected Goals rating of 53.5 and this year it's at 52.7. Those are solid numbers. His shooting percentage is down a bit, but not a ton. The coach just stopped playing him so much and his ice time is down 2 minutes per game at 5v5.

To my mind, the Canucks shouldn't have had to do any more than flip these players one-for-one, and therefore this is a great win for Calgary. They can flip Kuzmenko or he can become a foundational piece for them. Either way he's going to be a lot more motivated to perform for them than Lindholm seemed to be.

He is 2 years younger than Lindholm and just scored 39 goals last season. He has one year left on a very reasonable contract.

Getting an extra year at a reasonable price and a player who scores more and is 2 years younger than what you gave up shouldn't also net you two prospects and a pick. If they don't flip him right now, they could flip him next season, where, potentially, he has regained his rookie scoring touch and brings back Calgary an entirely new haul.

The risk reward for Calgary here is incredibly in their favor and I give them an A+ for this move. It's all about upside and value, and the Flames pulled off a trade that gives them a ton of both.

For Vancouver I give this trade a C because they are now better team after the trade but they over overpaid significantly while taking a major loss in the risk vs reward department. I also don't think Vancouver is anywhere near as good as a team as their lucky record suggest they are.

As a Canucks fan, I'd be extremely disappointed in giving up on a player four months removed from scoring 40 goals.


From a Leafs perspective, I'm just glad Treliving didn't overpay for his former star centre. I was kind of hoping they'd smartly buy low on Kuzmenko, but its no surprise that the guy who replaced Treliving was smart enough to do so while he was not.