Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Calgary Flames blueliner Noah Hanifin is just scratching the surface of his potential
10 months ago
Noah Hanifin completed his sixth season with the Calgary Flames, and it was another solid outing for the 26-year-old. Hanifin has been a stable, second pairing defenceman since being acquired in a blockbuster trade at the 2018 NHL draft involving Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland, Adam Fox, and Elias Lindholm.
Let’s take a closer look at Hanifin’s 2022-23 season.
Hanifin produced at an above average level for a second pairing defenceman. He scored seven goals and added 31 assists for 38 points in 81 games played. 24 of Hanifin’s 38 points came at 5-on-5, eight on the power play and two on the penalty kill.
Hanifin’s underlying numbers were pedestrian this season when you take into consideration the Flames puck possession, shots on goal from anywhere mentality in the offensive zone.
|Average Time on Ice
(Stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick)
The eye test
Hanifin can be frustrating player to watch because of the inconsistent nature of his play.
Hanifin can be a dominate force at both ends of the ice when he is on his game. He has all the talent and physical tools to be a legitimate top pairing defenceman in the NHL. He is big, rangy, smart, a great skater, and a good puck mover. There were times this season when Hanifin took over games using his skating. He has the ability to rush the puck up the ice, gain the zone and make plays. He is a fantastic player when he brings those attributes to the game.
But then there are other times when you hardly notice Hanifin is on the ice. There will be nights when he is not skating, not making plays, not showing any confidence, or taking any risks. Those are the nights that frustrate Flames fans because they know the potential is there for him to be a better player than he is.
Maybe the coaching staff and the Flames system are getting in the way of Hanifin becoming a high end, offensive defenseman. We can only speculate. But if the coaching staff could help unlock his potential and put it all together throughout the course of a season, he would be a top 30 d-man in the NHL.
He reminds me a lot of Jay Bouwmeester when he was a Flame from 2009-13, He had all the tools to be a world class defenceman but wasn’t that guy in Calgary.
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What’s next for Noah Hanifin?
Hanifin is one of the many Calgary Flame players whose contract will expire in the 2024 off-season.
One of the biggest off-season questions that need to be answered is what to do with Hanifin. Do you sign him to a long-term extension? Do you trade him? The Flames need to get clarity on that situation before puck drop in October.
I personally would like to see Hanifin sign long term. He is the type of player that will likely age well because of his skating. He should be able to play at a high level into his 30s.
I also think there is another level Hanifin can get to, especially offensively. All it will take is a coach to give Hanifin the green light to take more risks with the puck to create offence. If that can happen, the sky is the limit for this player.
Overall, Hanifin had a decent season with the Flames. There were times when he was a dominate force. And others where you didn’t notice him. Hopefully he can find some more consistency in his game in the coming seasons.
Letter grade: B-
What did you think of Noah Hanifin’s play in the 2022-23 season? Let us know what your letter grade is for him in the comments section!
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