Friedman: Tampa Bay believed to be Noah Hanifin’s ‘number one choice’ as a destination

Photo credit:Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 month ago
Friends, we’re into the home-stretch when it comes to the 2024 trade deadline and the Calgary Flames’ juggling of their many, many pending unrestricted free agents. On Saturday’s edition of Headlines on Hockey Night in Canada, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman provided an update on a pending Flames UFA in Noah Hanifin and another player, goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who have both been getting a lot of attention in the trade-related chatter.

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Here’s Friedman on Hanifin:
When it comes to Hanifin, he’s focusing on places and they’re focusing on places where he wants to sign with an extension. And the belief is that Tampa Bay is his number one choice. Now, I think if this was so easy to do it would be done already, so everybody continues to work at it. We’ll see how this goes over the next week. I believe they’re his preferred destination. But if they can’t make it work with the Lightning, we’ll see how that develops and how Calgary and Hanifin proceeds.
Our pal Frank Seravalli from Daily Faceoff has been discussing the likelihood of Hanifin going to Tampa Bay for a few weeks now. When it’s said that Hanifin’s situation is “complex” by folks like Seravalli, Friedman and Pierre LeBrun – the three wise men of insiderdom – what’s really being said is that the Flames would maximize their trade return for Hanifin if they send him somewhere he’ll sign an extension. If he’s a pure rental, the return would be lower, so the Flames have an incentive to work with the player’s camp to find him a landing spot. Add in Hanifin having a 10-team no-trade list, and there are some hoops to jump through before a trade can be consummated.
Friedman also provided an update on Markstrom’s comments about how the Flames have handled his situation:
Jacob Markstrom yesterday was in a scrum, Eric Francis asked him about how everything had been going, and Markstrom was critical of the process and some of the decisions made by the Flames. This is what I think he’s upset about: I believe he’s upset that the Flames went to him and told him about the possibility of a deal with New Jersey. He indicated he would be willing to consider going there, and then the plans changed. That deal obviously never happened, and then at some point Markstrom was informed the Flames preferred to keep him ‘cause he was playing great and the team was going well. I think that bothered him. I think his feelings… and I’m not speaking for him, but I’m under the impression that because he was told he could go, he kind of wished he’d never been told he could go if the plan was going to be not to trade him.
Now, another part of this is I believe the Devils have identified Markstrom as their number one target, and if it doesn’t happen before the deadline I’ve heard – and they won’t comment either, it’s not their player – I’ve heard they’re prepare to wait until the summer, the draft, whenever, to revisit a potential Markstrom trade. So if the Devils don’t acquire another goalie with term this week, I think you’re going to understand why.
All indications – including a report on Headlines from Friedman at the time – were that the Flames and Devils were pretty far down the road on a Markstrom swap in early February, but the deal didn’t end up being consummated and Markstrom has remained with the Flames. And amidst all this trade chatter, Markstrom has played fabulously, going 7-2-0 with a 2.48 goals against average and .919 save percentage since the beginning of February. While he was critical of how the process has been handled, it’s hard to criticize Markstrom’s performance during this period.
The Flames are back in action on Monday when they host the Seattle Kraken before heading to Florida for a three game road trip that straddles Friday’s trade deadline.
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