Calgary Flames

Noah Hanifin deserves more attention for his 2021–22 season for the Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames are elite. There’s no doubt about that. The team has been one of the league’s biggest surprises this season and is rightfully garnering a ton of attention league-wide. Various members of the Flames lineup have gained a ton of praise across the league for their strong play and career years in 2021–22.

That said, people aren’t talking enough about one key cog in the Flames lineup this season. Noah Hanifin has quietly established himself as an integral part of the Flames defence corps, a group in which is currently among the best in the entire NHL.

Playing on the team’s top-pairing with Rasmus Andersson, Hanifin has had a tremendous season for the Flames. However, Hanifin has flown under the radar this season, despite how well he’s played.

Let’s take a look at how good Hanifin has been for the Flames this season.

Hanifin’s strong two-way 2021–22 campaign

All numbers are 5v5 score- and venue-adjusted courtesy of Only players with at least 500 minutes TOI this season were considered.

StatNoah HanifinTeam Rank Among Defencemen (2021–22)League Rank Among Defencemen (2021–22)

Hanifin’s underlying numbers in these three key metrics are extremely impressive. He’s actually the only regular Flames defenceman to rank inside the top three in each metric on the team.

While his CF% ranks third, the two defencemen ahead of him are Nikita Zadorov and Erik Gudbranson, who make up the Flames’ third-pairing with much easier minutes. Hanifin has also logged over 150 minutes more than Zadorov at 5v5 and 95 more than Gudbranson at 5v5.

League-wide, Hanifin’s numbers look even more impressive. He’s the only regular Flames defenceman to rank inside the top 15 in each metric across the NHL. If we raise the requirements to only defenceman with 1000 minutes TOI, Hanifin ranks fifth in the NHL for CF%, fourth for xGF%, and fifth for HDCF%. There have been a total of 82 defencemen who have played at least 1000 minutes this season, so to rank top five in each metric is an incredibly impressive feat.

If we compare xGF and xGA on the Flames blueline this season courtesy of JFreshHockey, Hanifin—along with his partner in Andersson—stand out in a big way. In particular, Hanifin has been the best two-way defender on the team in 2021–22. He’s the player sitting right under “two-way dominance” which is certainly a good sign.

Looking at the expected goals above replacement totals on the Flames blueline from this season courtesy of, it once again paints a very nice picture regarding Hanifin’s play this year.

The top four on the Flames clearly stands out in a big way as expected, however it’s Hanifin leading the way with the highest expected goals above replacement total among the big four this season. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact Hanifin has posted the highest xGAR with minimal power play impact.

Hanifin’s offence has taken a huge step

If we look at Hanifin’s offensive production so far this season, it shows how well Hanifin has played this year in the offensive zone.

StatNoah HanifinTeam Rank Among Defencemen (2021–22)League Rank Among Defencemen (2021–22)

Hanifin has never been known for his offensive production—his career-high is just 33 points—however the 2021–22 season has been the best one offensively of Hanifin’s career. His 31 points are just two off his mentioned career-high, as he’s currently on pace for 40 points.

He ranks second on the Flames among defenceman for goals, assists, and points behind only his partner Andersson. His 147 shots rank first on the Flames and the total is top 20 league-wide among defencemen.

If we look at some of his underlying offensive numbers, it shows a similar story.

StatNoah HanifinTeam Rank Among Defencemen (21-22)League Rank Among Defencemen (21-22)

Breaking down his underlying numbers in terms of goal and shot production, Hanifin has been the best defenceman on the Flames at generating individual chances and high-danger chances on net. He’s also put up the highest expected goal total on the Flames blueline, one that sits 1.58 above his actual goal total.

Once again, the only Flames defenceman he ranks behind is his partner Andersson. League-wide Hanifin comes out looking very solid once again, as he nearly sits inside the top 20 for each metric.

Looking at the Flames’ offensive impacts with and without Hanifin on the ice courtesy of, it tells a clear story on the impact Hanifin has had this season.

With Hanifin on the ice, the Flames are a much better team offensively. Now that is certainly impacted by his quality of teammates when on the ice, however it still looks very good on Hanifin that the Flames are so much better offensively with him than without him.

A quietly impressive season

Hanifin seems to be hidden behind the likes of Andersson and Oliver Kylington when it comes to praise this season, however he is quietly having perhaps the most impressive season among any Flames blueliner.

He doesn’t play a flashy game, but he plays a safe and dependable two-way game. In other words, a style of play that perfectly suits a Darryl Sutter-coached team. That’s what makes Hanifin so good lately, the fact he doesn’t need to make big standout plays to have a solid game, but just sticking to his game and making smart plays instead. Hanifin has simply become one of the Flames most important players on defence.

Hanifin is as dependable as ever right now, and he’ll continue to lead the Flames’ blueline alongside Andersson on the team’s top pair, as the two have become a legitimate number one defence pair for the Flames this season. It’s time to put some respect on Hanifin’s name.

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