The 2023 NHL offseason is in full swing with a flurry of trades executed on Saturday around the league. The Calgary Flames are expected to be one of the busiest teams in the NHL over the next few days as they get ready for another summer of roster changes.
Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm, Tyler Toffoli, Mikael Backlund, and even more longtime Flames players are bound to at minimum garner a ton of interest league wide. What could those potential deals look like for the Flames? Let’s take a look starting with Hanifin.
Noah Hanifin’s player type
Hanifin has suited up for 359 regular season games with the Flames, in addition to 27 playoff contests, but is only 26 years of age. With nearly 600 NHL games of experience, Hanifin is almost considered to be at veteran status. He may not be the flashiest defenceman in the NHL, but he’s an extremely steady top-four defender that could slot into any team’s starting lineup.
Over the last three seasons, that above-average style is reflected in his underlying numbers.
Signed for one more season at an extremely reasonable $4.95M cap hit, Hanifin is going to bring back an absolute haul for the Flames.
The asset management point of view on Hanifin
Before getting into what Hanifin could potentially fetch on the open market, it’s important to note how he became a member of the Flames in the first place. Newly minted general manager Craig Conroy started off his tenure by preaching asset management, so it’s key the Flames don’t take a step back in any deal.
The infamous Dougie Hamilton trade is how Hanifin arrived in Calgary. The Flames sent Hamilton, Micheal Ferland, and the signing rights to Adam Fox—who wasn’t going to sign in Calgary—in exchange for Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin.
Now this was more of a pure hockey trade, but giving up a defencemen of Hamilton’s calibre as well as the rights to Adam Fox was expensive. The Flames should be expecting to recoup multiple assets as part of the deal.
The price teams should be paying for Hanifin
In terms of multiple assets, for Hanifin it would make the most sense for the Flames to aim for three. A first-round pick should be essential, a high-end prospect is up there as well, and then an additional asset being either a pick or player to round out the deal.
When the Flames traded for Hamilton originally, they gave up a first-round pick (15th) and two second-round picks (45th & 52nd). Hamilton was younger at the time, and a pending restricted free agents, so the Flames would have far more control than a Hamilton deal. That being said, with the crop of UFA defencemen looking poor and Hanifin’s extensive career, it could be very similar in terms of returns.
Last season at the draft, Tony DeAngelo fetched three draft picks, Alexander Romanov got a first-round pick, and two seasons ago Seth Jones went in a monster deal that included a defensive prospect, a first-round pick swap, an additional first-round pick, and a second-rounder. To think Hanifin could get that or more should be a safe assumption.
Hanifin’s willingness to sign a long-term extension does affect the potential return, but if he does sign long-term then there shouldn’t be any roadblocks.
Teams to target and Hanifin trade proposals
It was reported on Saturday that the Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres were the leading contenders for Hanifin. Both teams make a ton of sense, but I also think that the St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers are equally prepared to make offers.
For Florida, the biggest issue is that they just have two draft selections in the first two rounds over the next three years. The Flames could potentially acquire their second-round pick this year, but then the team would need to get some serious player capital. Perhaps Anthony Duclair and Anton Lundell? Highly doubt that the Panthers can offer up an attractive enough package.
Buffalo is extremely tantalizing. They have the 13th overall selection in this year’s draft, as well as an extra second-rounder. They also are in need of a veteran defenceman that can help pay with Owen Power and lighten the load on Rasmus Dahlin. Is it time that the Sabres are the ones to finally trade some picks and prospects?
The Blues have an excess of first-round draft picks this season, and although they are rumoured to be trading one in a proposed deal with the Flyers, they have long been known to be looking for defensive help. They have an extra few picks in the second and third round over the next two seasons, and some interesting prospects that they could be looking to move.
The Rangers are more of a pipe dream, but who says no to a Hanifin – Alexis Lafreniere swap? Probably the Rangers, but a man can dream.
The best outcome on trading Hanifin
The best possible outcome here for the Flames would be a deal with the Sabres that includes a first-round pick and potentially Peyton Krebs. That may seem like too much, but defencemen like Hanifin don’t come available that often.
Even if it’s not Krebs, there are a number of other quality prospects the team could look at while also including the 13th overall pick. Make it happen, Mr. Conroy.