ESPN’s Kevin Weekes is reporting that the Florida Panthers are making a solid push to acquire defenseman Noah Hanifin from the Calgary Flames. It is important to note that the Panthers do not have a first-round pick to offer in either the 2024 NHL Draft or the 2025 NHL Draft.
Even with the Panthers now involving themselves in the fray; the Arizona Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Toronto Maple Leafs have all had reported interest in Hanifin’s services. Already carrying an impressive defensive unit, Florida may be trying to drive up the price for their rival in the Lightning.
If Hanifin does make his way to Sunrise by March 8th, it would immediately create a very good problem to have for the Panthers. By acquiring Hanifin, the organization would now have four top-four defensemen set to hit unrestricted free agency including Brandon Montour, Gustav Forsling, and the resurgent Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
The team would create some long-term flexibility on their back end, especially if one of Montour or Forsling left for greener pastures this summer. However, as all of them will no longer be a part of the Panthers organization on July 1st, 2024, there is no guarantee that any of them will decide to re-up in Florida.
The inclusion of the Panthers in the race for Hanifin is very reminiscent of the Boston Bruins’ acquisition of Dmitry Orlov last spring from the Washington Capitals. Now on pace to win the President’s Trophy with their current defensive core, Florida may be looking to put themselves over the top in the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs after falling three games short last year.
In now his sixth season with the Flames organization, Hanifin is once again putting together a solid year, making him the most popular trade deadline rental option this season. In 59 games so far, Hanifin has scored 11 goals and 34 points overall, averaging 23:44 minutes of ice time per night.
The looming question surrounding any acquisition of Hanifin is how receptive he will be in discussing a contract extension with the acquiring organization. Earlier in the year, Calgary reportedly offered an eight-year, $60MM extension to Hanfin and his camp, but that was evidently not enough to convince Hanifin to stay in Alberta long-term.