- Earlier this week, it was reported that the Flames had a first-round pick on the table in an offer for Chris Tanev but declined since it involved taking money back beyond this season. That offer may have been from the Oilers, according to Postmedia’s Kurt Leavins, who says that Edmonton had a first-rounder on the table. Speculatively, that offer may have required taking one of Brett Kulak ($2.75MM through 2025-26) or Cody Ceci ($3.25MM through 2024-25) back to make the money work. Instead, Calgary sent him to Dallas for a second-round pick and prospect Artyom Grushnikov, a deal that kept some money on their books this year but only for this season.
On yesterday evening’s rendition of ’Saturday Headlines’ on Sportsnet, Elliotte Friedman spoke at length about several rumblings across the league leading up to the trade deadline. One of the major discoveries presented by Friedman is that the Tampa Bay Lightning are the preferred landing spot for Calgary Flames’ defenseman Noah Hanifin and that he would be willing to discuss an extension.
- Friedman also noted some specifics regarding the trade speculation surrounding Flames’ goaltender Jacob Markstrom, and the details behind his public frustration with the organization. Markstrom was originally displeased with the front office due to them indicating they had a deal in place to send him to the New Jersey Devils but then reversed course due to the solid play of the team in recent weeks. Friedman reports that even if the Devils are unable to acquire Markstrom before March 8th, New Jersey would be more than happy to reignite trade talks with Calgary at the 2025 NHL Draft.
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.
Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom is no stranger to the rumor mill having been prominently featured in trade speculation in recent weeks. Evidently, he’s not particularly thrilled about that happening. Speaking with reporters including Sportsnet’s Eric Francis, the veteran suggested that he isn’t happy with how things have gone on that front:
With Calgary already having moved Elias Lindholm, Chris Tanev, and Nikita Zadorov and the belief that Noah Hanifin will soon follow, many have wondered if Markstrom could follow suit, especially with several teams looking for help between the pipes. But the Flames remain in a battle for a playoff spot with the 34-year-old being a big reason for that so it’s far from a guarantee that they’ll want to move him even if a team comes to the table. However, how things have played out publicly when it comes to the trade speculation certainly appears to be a sore spot for Markstrom.
On Wednesday, the Stars’ acquisition of Chris Tanev from the Flames marked the first major pre-deadline deal involving a defenseman. As such, the past 36 hours have allowed for reporting to uncover more information about the days preceding the trade and what impacts it could have on the defense market in the week leading up to the trade deadline.
Among the finalists for Tanev were the Avalanche, Canucks, Maple Leafs, and Oilers, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said on Thursday’s episode of “Insider Trading.” Toronto was in conversations later than other teams, as LeBrun reports Leafs GM Brad Treliving had discussions with the Flames’ front office as late as hours before Tanev was dealt to Dallas.
LeBrun confirmed that Treliving’s lack of willingness to part with a first-round pick caused Calgary to ultimately decline their offer. However, the Flames’ interest in Stars defense prospect Artyom Grushnikov is quickly looking like what turned the tides in Dallas’ favor. That’s because the Flames had a first-round pick on the table in an offer from another team, but it was contingent on Calgary taking an NHL roster player with term back in the deal – something Calgary GM Craig Conroy wasn’t willing to do, LeBrun said.
In response, Friedman wondered if the Flames may now add a cheap NHL-ready blue-liner to help mitigate the loss of Tanev down the stretch. The team is in no condition to spend significant assets in a trade after selling off Tanev, Elias Lindholm and Nikita Zadorov earlier in the season. Still, a mid- or late-round pick may be in play to avoid overplaying depth defenders like Dennis Gilbert, Jordan Oesterle and Brayden Pachal.
The newest Dallas Stars defenseman, Chris Tanev, isn’t expected to slot into Dallas’ lineup immediately, per Sportsnet’s Eric Francis. Francis added that Tanev will stay in Calgary for a few days while he secures a visa. The Stars acquired Tanev from the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, sending two draft picks and defensive prospect Artem Grushnikov back to the Flames. Dallas also sent a fourth-round pick to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for the Devils retaining 50 percent of Tanev’s cap hit.
Tanev, 34, was arguably the top name on the trade market, with a long list of teams interested in adding his defensive prowess. He only has 14 points in 56 games this season, but he led active Flames defensemen in both CF% (Corsi-For Percentage) and xGF% (expected goals-for percentage), speaking to his ability to control possession and scoring opportunities. Tanev has been in the league since the 2010-11 season, when he debuted with the Vancouver Canucks, who signed him as an undrafted free agent ahead of the season. He’s played in the NHL every season since, totaling 185 points and 773 games in the league. Dallas will mark the third team of Tanev’s career, after 10 years in Vancouver and four in Calgary.
Other notes from around the league:
- New York Islanders defenseman Robert Bortuzzo is still not skating, shares Ethan Sears of the New York Post. Bortuzzo rehabbing a lower-body injury that’s earned him a place on the team’s long-term injured reserve. He hasn’t played since January 2nd, forcing the Islanders to once again test their defensive depth. Sears also shared that the Islanders are expected to recall Hudson Fasching from his AHL conditioning stint, though he won’t be immediately activated off of LTIR. Fasching has one goal in three AHL games this season.
- The NHL has fined both Buffalo Sabres head coach Don Granato and Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe for unprofessional conduct directed at officials. Each coach was docked $25K. Keefe received a game misconduct for arguing with the refs about a Mitch Marner tripping call, continuing to question the refs even after Toronto had killed off the penalty. Granato received a bench penalty for arguing a Zach Benson tripping penalty, with the opposing Florida Panthers scoring the game-winning goal on the resulting five-on-three power-play. These fines follow a precedent set by the league that aims to reduce abuse of officials.
The Dallas Stars have acquired defenseman Chris Tanev from the Calgary Flames, and goaltender Cole Brady from the New Jersey Devils, per a team announcement. The Stars will send defensive prospect Artyom Grushnikov, a 2024 second-round pick, and a conditional 2026 third-round pick back to Calgary. Dallas has also sent a 2026 fourth-round pick to the Devils for their part in retaining 50% of Tanev’s salary for the remainder of the 2023-24 season.
As the Flames also retained 50% of Tanev’s contract, that brings his AAV down to just $1.125MM for the Stars. As far as the conditions on the conditional third-round pick headed to Calgary, the Flames will only receive this pick if Dallas makes it to the 2024 Stanley Cup Final.
With Tanev now in the fold, this gives Dallas a formidable top-four of their defensive unit with Miro Heiskanen, Thomas Harley, and Esa Lindell also in the mix. As Tanev was previously one of the grittier defensemen on this year’s trade market, he will make the Stars much more difficult to play against leading into the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs.
In the last season of a four-year, $18MM contract signed with the Flames organization, Tanev has averaged over 20 minutes a night in Calgary during his tenure. In 259 games played with the Flames, Tanev has scored a total of 10 goals and 67 points during his tenure in Alberta.
Nevertheless, the Stars undoubtedly targeted Tanev due to his defensive prowess, as he averaged close to a 90.0 on-ice save percentage in all situations over his career. Aside from carrying solid defensive awareness, Tanev has also averaged more than 100 blocked shots each season, and he will become the new leader in that category in Texas with 171 already this year.
Currently, in a backup role at the University of Massachusetts, Brady was brought to the Devils organization as a fifth-round selection in the 2019 NHL Draft. In now his fourth season in the NCAA, Brady has played in a total of 46 games for Massachusetts and Arizona State, earning a 16-18-4 record with a .902 SV%.
In return to Calgary, Grushnikov was originally drafted 48th overall by the Stars in the 2021 NHL Draft. In his first full season in the American Hockey League, he has played in 44 games for Dallas’ AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars, scoring one goal and five points overall. Nevertheless, Grushnikov does have solid defensive awareness like Tanev and can frustrate opposing players in his zone.
By adding the second-round selection and the conditional third-round pick, the Flames now have a total of 24 draft picks available to them in the next three NHL Drafts. Intent on rebuilding the team through the draft to supplement their core, General Manager Craig Conroy continues to stockpile picks through his trades this season to do just that.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports images.
- Flames winger Andrei Kuzmenko will miss tonight’s Battle of Alberta with an illness, coach Ryan Huska said (via Eric Francis of Sportsnet). The middle-six scoring winger has been up-and-down since Calgary acquired him from the Canucks in the Elias Lindholm trade, notching three goals and one assist in eight games with a -2 rating. He hasn’t seen an uptick in ice time since moving across provincial lines, averaging 14:06 per game with Calgary compared to 14:21 with Vancouver. He’s signed through next season at a $5.5MM cap hit.
There has been no shortage of trade speculation coming from Calgary this season. Nikita Zadorov and Elias Lindholm have already been moved while Chris Tanev, Noah Hanifin, and Jacob Markstrom are all in the rumor mill as well. But those aren’t the only players teams are calling about as ESPN’s Kevin Weekes reports (Twitter link) that the Flames are also receiving trade interest in defenseman Rasmus Andersson.
The 27-year-old has become a top-pairing player in recent seasons after putting up 50 points in 2021-22 and 49 points in 2022-23 while logging big minutes. This year, Andersson’s numbers are down a bit as he has 28 points through 51 games so far but is averaging a little over 24 minutes a night and is playing in all situations. With 122 blocks, he’s only 14 shy of his career-high on that front as well.
On top of that, Andersson has a contract that certainly has been well below market value as of late. He’s signed through the 2025-26 campaign with a $4.5MM cap hit, a price point that’s more commensurate with a second-pairing player than a top-pairing one. Getting someone with that type of surplus value would make a lot of sense for many teams.
Of course, holding onto a player like that also makes sense for Calgary. GM Craig Conroy indicated earlier this week that he doesn’t intend for the Flames to go into a full-scale rebuild. It’s one thing to move players on expiring contracts as they’ve done twice so far and could do twice more with Tanev and Hanifin where you risk losing the player for free in free agency but it’s another to move a controllable key asset like Andersson.
Accordingly, it would be surprising to see Conroy move Andersson in the three weeks before the March 8th trade deadline unless the return was simply too good to pass up on. However, that won’t stop teams from inquiring in the hopes that they can come up with an offer that would make Calgary part with one of its top blueliners.
- Flames winger Jakob Pelletier is making progress in his recovery from an upper-body injury that has caused him to miss the last two games but he isn’t expected to play on Monday versus Winnipeg, relays Sportsnet 960’s Pat Steinberg (Twitter link). The 22-year-old has been limited to just four games so far this season (plus four more in the minors) due to injury. However, it appears this one won’t keep him out for much longer.