FlamesNation player evaluation: Noah Hanifin

After three seasons in Carolina, Noah Hanifin joined the Calgary Flames prior to the 2018-19 season. He had a solid, if somewhat uneven, first year in Alberta.

2018-19 season summary

As general manager, Brad Treliving has brought in a new high-end defender three times. Twice – Dougie Hamilton and Travis Hamonic – the newcomer has faced challenges in their first season. Hanifin was the exception, as he had a pretty solid first campaign with the Flames.

Games played Goals Assists Points TOI/GP 5v5 CF% 5v5 CF% rel OZS% PDO
80 5 28 33 20:46 52.99 -1.59 54.15 1.000

Hanifin played a ton in 2018-19. He was healthy for the entire season and played in every game, aside from a pair of healthy scratches at the end of the season after the Flames had their playoff positioning sewn up. He was second on the team in even strength ice time and third on the team in overall ice time.

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The youngster was effectively joined at the hip with Hamonic for the entire season. Aside from some in-game adjustments where Hamonic was swapped with Rasmus Andersson, Hamonic was Hanifin’s defensive chaperone for the campaign. The pair received secondary deployments – Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie got tougher opponents and more defensive zone starts, while the third pairing were sheltered more significantly due to both of them being rookies at any given time.

If you watch the games or look at the numbers, it’s obvious that there’s some wildness in Hanifin’s game that will need to be smoothed out. He led the Flames in high danger scoring chances allowed, and a good deal of that was due to getting caught pinching from the point and leaving Hamonic to defend odd-man rushes by his lonesome.

Overall, Hanifin was a tale of two sides of his game. Offensively, he was dynamite: he was second or third in virtually every offensive rate statistic – shots, attempts, scoring chances and high danger chances – but dead last among regular blueliners in the shot suppression rates. He’ll obviously need to work on that aspect of his game, but that’s precisely why he plays with Hamonic and why the veteran is so valuable as his partner.

Compared to last season

Compared to his time in Carolina, Hanifin was given less frequent offensive zone starts and slightly tougher opposition. He was also used a lot more: he had a big, big jump in five on five ice time. He had some growing pains, though – his offensive rates were pretty much the same, but he had a small drop in Corsi For percentage and his shot suppression numbers eroded fairly significantly.

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He had a good offensive season and was a big part of the Flames’ scoring outburst, but his defensive game needs work.

What about next season?

By the standards of the Flames and the wider NHL, Hanifin still has a ton of developmental runway left. He’ll be just 22 years old to begin the 2019-20 season and entering the second year of a six year deal that pays him $4.95 million annually. Barring any big roster changes, he’ll spend another season alongside Hamonic and working on his two-way game.

Long-term, the dueling succession plans to take over for Giordano as the top left side defender are likely between Hanifin and Juuso Valimaki. Both of them are very promising offensive players, but whoever figures out the defensive side of the game likely becomes the captain’s heir apparent. it’ll be fascinating to see how the two players handle their development within that context.

2018-19 player evaluations

#4 Rasmus Andersson | #5 Mark Giordano | #7 TJ Brodie | #8 Juuso Valimaki | #10 Derek Ryan | #11 Mikael Backlund | #13 Johnny Gaudreau | #18 James Neal | #19 Matthew Tkachuk | #21 Garnet Hathaway | #23 Sean Monahan | #24 Travis Hamonic | #27 Austin Czarnik | #28 Elias Lindholm | #33 David Rittich| #41 Mike Smith

  • freethe flames

    The two biggest knocks against Hanifin are that he is not physical enough and that he disappears for long stretches of time. Reminds me of Dougie Hamilton and Jay Bouwmester. But then despite that fact he has played so many games in the NHL that he is only 22. A very solid second pairing guy who could be a top pairing guy but will likely never get there. H&H were a solid pairing all year but like just about everybody else did not play their best hockey in the playoffs. Here is hoping he continues to develop.

    • Heeeeere’s Johnny

      Hanifin is actually the most physical Dman on the Flames as measured by hits. While is total of 87 last year is well below league leaders it is 25 ahead of Gio who was second on the Flames. I remember several times during the season being surprised at some significant hits thrown by Hanifin. I don’t think he “hits to hurt” like Gio can but I think he uses his body effectively when needed.

      • HOCKEY83

        Ya if you look at the stats he is the most physical D man on the team. If you pro rate the stats Stone is far and away the most physical D man on the team and then Hanifan then Valimaki, Fantanberg is right up there with Hanifan and Valimaki but considering his time is probably done as a Flame it doesn’t matter what his stats are.

  • CowboyBob

    Young, Lots of skill and natural talent, reminds me of Marc Edourd Vlasic when he skates. While Vlasic is not known as a tough guy, there is a lot of jam and an edge that I just don’t see in Hanifin. Looked stunned though most of the playoffs especially the first two games.

  • Puck Head

    Hanifin, Ras and Kylington are all 21. Valimaki is 19. Historically the Flames have never had so much youth on the back end. It’s nice to see that the mindset towards young players has changed.

    • Kevin R

      Hanifin I believed turned 22 in January but still very young. At 6’3″ & 215 lbs he could be a real physical presence on the backend. Just needs someone to teach him that side of the game. Kid has good wheels. He has looked good at the Worlds. Solid get for the Flames.

      If there is any truth to rumours, would be cool to see Tre get Trouba & be able to ink him to a 5-6 year deal. I know it may mean we lose Hamonic. But I think Hanifin & Trouba would make a pretty nice top pairing, followed by Gio & Andersson. I would imagine both pairings would play 20+ minutes each. Dare to dream.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        If Hamonic is the main piece going to Winnipeg for Trouba, Chevy is FORD–Found On the Road Dead! Can’t see a Trouba to Cal deal unless it’s a 3-way because most of Cal’s assets are pricey except for Kylington. Would you do Trouba for Hamonic and Kylington and a draft pick?

        • RealMcHockeyReturns

          As I said elsewhere, Hamonic (Manitoban, good RD) and Frolik (good RW who played there before) for Trouba. Maybe must retain some salary to even things out but this 2-for-1 makes sense for moderate budget Jets and Flames get another stud D but would need to pay $6.5 at least. In fact we may need to add in more to make it happen.

          • Kevin R

            Jets have a lot of issues with their cap & I am not even sure who the problem is in their dressing room, sounds like more than one player & fueled by the coach has his favorites. Not sure what has more value to Chevy, cap space to sign Connor & Lianne? If so, I doubt Frolik can be in this equation. Although Frolik has given Tre some trade currency for the draft coming up.

        • Kevin R

          I would definitely look at that but I would want maybe a conditional pick (2nd) if Hamonic resigns with the Jets. What about Janko instead of Kyllington & then we trade Brodie for Kappanen or Kadri?

  • freethe flames

    So just throwing out a couple of trade ideas: TJ to Montreal for the Columbus 2nd rounder this year and Montreal 1st next year with a conditional 2nd if he resigns or they make the playoffs.

    FRolik to Ottawa for the Panthers 2nd rounder and something else?

    • HOCKEY83

      There’s not a lot of folks giving Frolik his due here but Frolik playing considerably less minutes than he’s ever played and a bit of an inconsistent line up position had one of his best season ever offensively and defensively seasons. He’s also sitting second in scoring right now in the World tourney. 6 games 6 goals 6 assists. He should be pretty great trade bait.

      • freethe flames

        I like Frolik but I suspect it is time to move on. He feels misused here. I would if he could fetch more than a second but I try when guessing on putting a reasonable guess into the value of our assets. I think we often over value some of our own assets or completely undervalue them ie Stone; people want to give away but he is a servicable NHL 6th/7th NHl defender but overpaid.

        • Kevin R

          We got a 2nd & a 4th for Hudler who was having a terrible year. Frolik will get at least that & probably 2 2nds at the TDL. If you cant get more than a 2nd for him at the draft here then keep him until the TDL, he wont hurt us.

          • freethe flames

            Different markets get different results. Trading the deadline will frequently get more. The question is do the Flames want the cap space to deal with their other issues. Again I like Frolik and would have no problem if he was here until TDL but it has it’s costs.

    • HOCKEY83

      I’d rather have Hanifan as well because i think he will be way more than Hamilton is but Hammy did double his hit this past season from 83 with Calgary to 160 with Carolina.

  • Off the wall

    Hanifin had a strong 1st and 2nd quarter. What struck me, was his shots on goal. In Carolina, he generated 165 shots- and had 10 goals in 17/18.

    This season he had 116 shots and 5 goals. Judging from the way Peters’ deployed him, it seems odd that his PP time was almost non existent in the 3rd and 4th quarter. It’s evident that he is offensive minded and his skill set seems to warrant PP time.

    But he is young and his defensive game is typical of younger D men. It’s all about positioning and he’s got the speed for the game.

    He has all the tools, we need to be patient as he transitions from the apprentice to the veteran.

  • Budgie

    When you have a young player with talent you don’t know how high he can go, Hanifin could be the next GIO for the Flames. Meshing with Hamonic gives the Flames a solid pairing, not bad for a 22 yr. old with tremendous potential