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.
The news comes shortly after a report suggested that the Florida Panthers were making a concerted push for Hanifin, which could simply be some rivalry gamesmanship on their part. At any rate, this report confirms that the Lightning are making a strong effort to fill in the void left by the injury to Mikhail Sergachev, and are not ready to cede the Atlantic Division to other up-and-coming teams in the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs.
An extension in Tampa Bay would be the most difficult part of any hypothetical transaction to acquire Hanifin, due to the Lightning only having around $10.85MM available to them in cap space this offseason, even with the salary cap set to rise to $87.7MM. If Tampa Bay is amicable to signing Hanifin at a deal they believe gives them solid value, General Manager Julien BriseBois may have to make a difficult choice between Hanifin, and pending unrestricted free agent forward Steven Stamkos this summer.
- 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.
- Lastly, Friedman confirmed that the Pittsburgh Penguins had set the asking price for forward Jake Guentzel at two prospects; not one prospect and a first-round pick. Friedman’s report comes a few days after President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Kyle Dubas said to reporters that the Penguins’ primary focus at this year’s trade deadline would be to get younger overall. With several buyers not interested in parting with a first-round pick at this year’s trade deadline, the asking price for Guentzel may lead to a larger market for Pittsburgh to choose from.