The Calgary Flames haven’t had a captain in two years, but that will soon change.
Speaking on Sportsnet 960 with Pat Steinberg on Tuesday afternoon, new Flames’ GM Craig Conroy confirmed the team will indeed have a captain by the start of next season.
“Absolutely, we’re going to have a captain,” Conroy said. “I’ve played in two Canadian markets myself. You have to have a captain, I’ve always believed it. I struggled with it each year, but that’s obviously a decision that was above me. Now when we’re doing the coaching interviews, we’re going to have a captain.”
One player who may fit the bill is Mikael Backlund. Not only is he the team’s longest-tenured player, but he has been an assistant captain in each of the past five seasons.
Giving Backlund the captaincy may be an issue given that he only has one season remaining on his deal, but according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, having that role may make him more open to signing an extension.
“Mikael Backlund wants that role and teammates think he’d be an excellent choice,” Friedman wrote in his latest 32 Thoughts column. “That could play a big part of his extension conversations.”
Backlund’s current contract was a six-year, $32.1 million deal that carries an average annual value (AAV) of $5.35 million. At 34 years old, he won’t receive that same type of term on an extension but could be given a similar AAV. His 19 goals and career-high 56 points this season prove he is still at the top of his game.
Another notable Flame entering the final year of his contract is Elias Lindholm. Like Backlund, he didn’t seem to be overly eager to sign an extension when speaking with reporters a month ago, but Conroy is hoping that his thoughts have since shifted.
“I do know where Elias was thinking prior, so now I want to see where he’s at,” Conroy said. “I really do want to see what his mindset is right now. I have a very good relationship [with him], and obviously he’s a priority here. For me, he’s a player you build around.”
Since arriving to Calgary in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2018 offseason, Lindholm has been a huge part of the Flames. On top of his steady defensive play, he has provided 139 goals and 325 points in 369 games, all while carrying a cap hit of just $4.85 million.
That cap hit will increase on his new deal, with Friedman speculating he may sign something similar to Bo Horvat’s recent eight-year extension with the New York Islanders that carries an AAV of $8.5 million. It appears the Flames want to keep him around, but whether he wants to stay is very much a question mark at this time.
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