Speaking with reporters, including Sportsnet 960’s Pat Steinberg at the NHL’s media tour in Las Vegas, Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin said he’s “absolutely” willing to consider an extension with the team.
Hanifin, 26, was unwilling to sign an extension in Calgary at the beginning of the offseason, according to reporting from TSN’s Pierre LeBrun. Along with Mikael Backlund and Elias Lindholm, who have expressed a conditional willingness to extend depending on the team’s performance this season, Hanifin is slated for unrestricted free agency next summer. He’s coming off a 2022-23 season in which he played 81 of 82 games, registered seven goals and 31 assists for 38 points, recorded a 53.0% Corsi for at even strength, and averaged a career-high 22:39 per game. LeBrun said earlier this summer Calgary was likely to trade Hanifin – something that didn’t come to fruition, and he’s now projected to start 2023-24 alongside potential captaincy candidate Rasmus Andersson on the team’s top pairing.
If they do extend him, it certainly won’t be on a discount – as is the likely scenario with Backlund and Lindholm. With extensions unlikely to be reached before the start of the season, Evolving Hockey projects an eight-year, $7.5MM AAV deal for Hanifin to remain in Calgary. Their model also predicts an eight-year extension at $8.4MM per season for Lindholm, but recent reporting from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggests that figure will be closer to $9MM if Lindholm does extend. For Backlund, they predict a four-year deal at around $5.5MM per season. For a team with little to no salary cap flexibility this summer, is extending all three even financially feasible if the players remain open to it?
The short answer is barely. CapFriendly currently projects the Flames with roughly $35.5MM in cap space for the 2024-25 season with a roster size of just 11 players, assuming the Upper Limit rises from $83.5MM to $87.5MM as projected. Taking the figures above means re-signing all three of Backlund, Hanifin and Lindholm would cost around $22MM, bringing that cap space figure to $13.5MM with a roster size of only 14. That would involve filling out the rest of their roster with contracts averaging less than $1.5MM AAV apiece, and it’ll likely take significantly more than that number to retain other pending UFA defenders like Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov as well as re-signing pending RFA forward Dillon Dubé.