Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames are open for business, Hanifin’s nixed extension number, and players who don’t want to rebuild

There has been no shortage of news circulating in Flames land recently. With an abundance of pending unrestricted free agents (UFAs), a slow start, and a Nikita Zadorov trade request, news is bubbling around the organization. It’s definitely not what Flames management would have wanted, but they are now under immense spotlight.

In his latest piece for TheAthletic, Pierre LeBrun introduced a variety of new details surrounding the Flames. Following LeBrun, Darren Dreger also added some detail about the Flames in today’s edition of Insider Trading on TSN. Per Dreger, the distaste expands further than just pending UFAs. Let’s cover the basics of what both insiders had to say about the team.

The Calgary Flames are open for business

It was reported that the Flames had begun testing the market for their UFA defenceman last week. Well, LeBrun confirmed that the Flames are open for business and listening on their pending UFAs. LeBrun stresses that extension talks will play a crucial role in the eventual Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm, Chris Tanev, and Nikita Zadorov trades. This is a good thing for the Flames, as these guys coming to their new teams with extensions should only boost the acquisition price. There was also an adage that there is no urgency for anything on the Flames’ end.

“There is no urgency to any of this. The Flames have until the March 8 trade deadline to figure it all out, but they are for sure in listening mode, looking to reset their roster to some degree and get high-end future assets. And that’s dominating chatter across NHL circles.”

Pierre LeBrun on the Flames gameplan moving forward to the March 8 Trade Deadline

To me, that sounds like a plan to retool or rebuild without saying either of those buzzwords. It’s exactly what the Flames need to do, so this is a positive step in the future direction of the franchise. It didn’t work with the new core last year. And it’s been the same story so far this year. If I’m the Flames, I don’t want to extend anybody else. And if I’m one of the pending UFAs, there are definitely greener grasses elsewhere.

We already have the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, and New Jersey Devils as interested parties in Zadorov. LeBrun notes there are already a similar number of teams interested in Tanev:

“There’s no question Treliving (Maple Leafs) has also inquired on Tanev. But I’m told three to four teams have already shown interest in Tanev. There should be a robust market there. The dilemma for the Flames on Tanev is probably timing. Do you wait closer to March 8 (NHL’s Trade Deadline) to get the best possible trade for him but then risk losing him to injury along the way? Tough call.”

Pierre LeBrun on the Flames decision on Chris Tanev

The Chris Tanev situation is definitely an interesting conundrum. You have a guy that every contender would want on their blueline. However, the NHL is capped out, and waiting until March gives those teams cap flexibility. But, Tanev is an asset with a long injury history. This is not an enviable position for the Flames to be in when they know they want or need to sell.

Noah Hanifin’s contract number revealed

LeBrun confirmed that contract talks on a rumoured extension for Noah Hanifin have hit a complete standstill on both sides. That is probably a good thing, as LeBrun noted the following:

“Hanifin came very close to signing a sizeable extension a month ago (believed to be close to $60 million) but decided to hold off to see how season started. Now that ship has sailed. For both parties.”

Pierre LeBrun on Noah Hanifin’s extension talks

Thank goodness both sides decided to wait. Assuming the extension was eight years, that means Hanifin’s AAV would have come in around $7.5M. Hanifin is a good defenceman, but I would not give him that contract. Given where the Flames find themselves now, locking themselves into another long-term extension would have been crazy. Not a good look for Craig Conroy and the rest of the management group to know that they were close to forking over almost 60 million dollars for Noah Hanifin. He will command them a nice return at some point before the trade deadline.

Veteran players currently under contract won’t want to stick around for a rebuild

On Insider Trading, Dreger mentioned that some veteran players won’t want to stick around if the Flames enter a rebuild. Dreger specifically mentioned Nazem Kadri:

“Nazem Kadri, as an example, signed that long-term deal as a free agent with the Calgary Flames, well he wants to stay in Calgary, he wants to win with the Flames but if the Flames as an organization progress to a rebuild, he’s not interested in that.”

Darren Dreger on Nazem Kadri not wanting to stick around for a rebuild

That is going to be a tough contract to move. Kadri has six years remaining on a deal that pays him an AAV of $7M. He is already 33 years old, so will only decline going forward. Could a reunion in Colorado work, if the Flames retained and took back the contract of Samuel Girard ($5M AAV for four years)? Kadri was super popular in the Avalanche dressing room and played a huge role in helping them win the 2022 Stanley Cup. Kadri also has a no-move clause through the 2025–26 season. That NMC transfers to a 13-team no-trade list starting in 2026–27. This will be an interesting story to follow going forward. And will this sentiment transfer to other veterans under contract?

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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