The summer has been quiet recently for the Calgary Flames and the entire NHL. We saw our first major trade in quite some time on August 6, which saw Erik Karlsson land in Pittsburgh. Will another defenceman be on the move soon? We could see a Noah Hanifin trade at any time this offseason. He could also be dealt sometime before the 2023–24 NHL Trade Deadline. I am fine with whatever gets the Flames the highest return, as long as GM Craig Conroy backs up his beliefs in asset management and doesn’t let Hanifin walk for nothing—no matter where the Flames are in the standings.
We know a few things about Noah Hanifin and his plans:
- One: Hanifin is not going to re-sign with the Flames following the 2023–24 season.
- Two: Hanifin wants to go back to the United States.
What should a Hanifin return look like?
The market for this kind of defenceman is pretty much set. Funnily enough, Calgary helped set this market twice in recent memory:
- At the 2015 Draft, the Calgary Flames traded a 2015 first-, 2015 second-, and 2015 second-round pick to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Dougie Hamilton.
- In the summer of 2017, the Flames traded a 2018 first-, 2018 second-, and 2019 second-round pick in exchange for Travis Hamonic (and a fourth-rounder).
Another example is the Hampus Lindholm trade to Boston a few years back. This saw the Ducks acquire a 2022 first-, 2023 second-, 2024 second-round pick, prospect Urho Vaakanainen, and John Moore ($1.625M cap dump). In today’s tight cap world, I’d have to imagine one or both of salary retention or taking on a cap dump occurs in any Hanifin deal.
This projected return (one first-, and two second-round picks, and a cap dump) assumes Hanifin signs an extension with his new club.
Which teams still make sense as suitors for Hanifin?
The market for Hanifin has changed drastically. The Penguins seemed like an obvious landing spot for Hanifin. But after signing Ryan Graves in free agency and trading for Erik Karlsson, we can fully count them out. Buffalo was linked to Hanifin by insiders to begin the summer, but they added Connor Clifton and Erik Johnson, and now have a logjam on defence.
Florida was heavily linked to Hanifin around the draft, but chose to sign Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Niko Mikkola, Mike Reilly, and Dmitry Kulikov instead. I still think Florida could be an option for Hanifin near the deadline if their free agency signings don’t turn out. Detroit was mentioned as an option for Hanifin recently, but they went out and acquired Jeff Petry earlier this week.
First off, we can eliminate all of the Canadian teams, knowing Hanifin wants to sign in America. Hanifin has a eight-team no-trade clause, so one could make the assumption all or most of the Canadian teams are on that list. I think the Leafs could make some sense, and we know Treliving has expressed interest in Hanifin, Tanev, and Zadorov this summer. But, we will just stick with the assumption that Hanifin stays in the US.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues reportedly want to shake up their blueline. They almost completed a trade for Travis Sanheim, but Torey Krug was unwilling to waive his no-trade clause to Philadelphia. There was lots of talk around the Blues at the draft, as they had three first-rounders. Surprisingly, they used all three picks. With their only change this summer being brining in Kevin Hayes, there is certainly intrigue. I think Hanifin could make some sense in St. Louis, as their LD is lacking. If you acquired Hanifin, you could run some combo of Hanifin, Krug, and Leddy on the left side. I’m not sure St. Louis has the appetite to acquire another defenceman who they will likely pay $6.5M on an eight-year deal, but who knows.
The Blues have quite a few prospects, and all of their high picks, including an extra second-rounder this year from Toronto (part of the Ryan O’Reilly deal at last year’s deadline). I would imagine Marco Scandella comes back to the Flames to make the cap work, but he possesses a seven-team no-trade list, so there’s a decent chance the Flames might on that.
Noah Hanifin’s hometown has lost a lot of players this offseason. Centre is probably a bigger concern for the Bruins right now, with the dual retirements of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. However, losing Dmitry Orlov in free agency has left a big hole on their blueline. Their left side consists of Hampus Lindholm, Matt Grzelyck, and Derek Forbort. It’s not horrible, but if they could upgrade on Grzelyck, they could continue to be a threat in the East (although that centre core is very concerning).
I would imagine Hanifin would be willing to extend in his hometown. The problem with the Bruins is their lack of assets. Fabian Lysell is their only notable prospect, and they have no first-round pick in 2024, and no second-rounders in 2024 and 2025. I would have to imagine Matt Grzelcyk is included in the deal for cap purposes, whom the Flames could keep or flip to another team in need of defensive help.
The Stars seem like a team that will boost up their defence in chase of a deep Cup run. Currently, they have a first pair of Ryan Suter and Miro Heiskanen. After that, Esa Lindell and Jani Hakanpaa form their shutdown pairing. Nils Lundkvist and Thomas Harley are two young defenceman hoping to grab a higher spot in the lineup. I think acquiring Hanifin and pushing down one of Suter or Lindell makes them that much of a deeper team.
They could also make sense as a suitor for Chris Tanev. The Stars possess picks and prospects that Calgary would be looking for. I already think they are one of the biggest threats for the Cup, and adding Hanifin on top of that boosts them to another level. The problem of course is cap space, as the Stars are capped out. Their contracts that might make sense to move (Suter, Faksa, Lindell, Marchment) all have trade protection.
The Coyotes have reversed course this offseason. They have been signing players and trading for players, instead of being the destination for insurance contracts.
Their forward group is starting to take shape, but their defence could use some work. Oddly enough, every single one of their defenceman needs a new contract following the 2023–24 season. Currently, it looks like Jusso Valimaki, J.J. Moser, and Travis Dermott (who is coming back from a major injury). On the right, Matt Dumba, Sean Durzi, and one of Troy Stecher/Josh Brown, with Victor Soderstrom a wild card.
The Coyotes have a plethora of picks in the coming drafts, so packaging a first and a couple seconds would be almost nothing to them. Would Hanifin want to extend long-term in Arizona? Who knows. But if Arizona wants to continue to flip the script, making a move for Hanifin could put them right on the brink of being a wild card team.
Hanging onto Hanifin
In every angle, the Flames are practising patience and are clearly not in a rush to make a move. However, it’s a case of knowing how long to hold on for without getting burned. No matter the method or path, the outcome remains the same, the Flames simply cannot lose Hanifin for nothing.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire