It appears that the holdup for a potential Noah Hanifin trade has been due to an underwhelming trade market. This comes from Sportsnet 960’s Pat Steinberg who also reported a few days ago that the trade market had been soft this summer for one of the Calgary Flames’ other trade chips Mikael Backlund.
Both Backlund and Hanifin will be free agents next summer, and while Backlund expressed an interest in seeing the season play out before signing an extension, Hanifin has said he doesn’t plan to sign a deal to extend his stay in Calgary.
Under normal circumstances, a 26-year-old first-pairing defenseman would be highly coveted, but as Steinberg reports, the Flames just haven’t received any strong offers. The Pittsburgh Penguins reportedly had interest earlier in the summer, but nothing ever materialized on the trade front, and given their pursuit of Erik Karlsson one must wonder if Penguins general manager used Calgary as leverage to get a better deal for Pittsburgh.
Lyle Richardson of The Hockey News wrote today that when the deal for Karlsson happened there was an expectation that there would be movement on the Hanifin front, but it has yet to materialize. He also speculates that perhaps the Flames will keep the rearguard until the March trade deadline when more teams will have accrued cap space due to injuries.
On the ice, Hanifin has been everything Calgary could have hoped for when they acquired him from the Carolina Hurricanes in a 2018 trade. He has averaged over 21 minutes a night during his time in Calgary and has put up 31 goals and 125 assists in 359 games with the Flames. Any potential team that acquires the Boston native would be getting a player capable of playing first-pairing minutes or being an exceptional second-pairing defenseman. Hanifin is an excellent skater and can generally be counted on for 35-40 points per season. He is in the final year of a contract that carries a $4.95MM cap hit and reportedly has an 8-team modified no-trade clause, meaning that Calgary has quite a few options to facilitate a potential move.
At the beginning of the summer, it looked as though the Flames would be busy in the trade market with several players approaching free agency. But, thus far general manager Craig Conroy has been quiet and may just start the season with several prominent free agents. It will make for interesting theatre as Flames fans don’t have to look back far to remember the exodus of top-end talent in the summer of 2022 that saw Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk take their talents south of the border. Calgary can ill afford to lose more high-end players for nothing and will likely be looking to make a flurry of moves in-season unless something materializes in the upcoming weeks.