Taking a look at which teams Noah Hanifin fits best on

Photo credit:© Stephen R. Sylvanie - USA Today
Ryley Delaney
4 months ago
It seems like only a matter of time before the Calgary Flames trade pending unrestricted free agent Noah Hanifin.
That begs the question, which playoff teams could use a second-pairing, left-shot defenceman who plays significant minutes against elite competition? The simple answer to that question is all of them, but realistically, which teams could have interest in Hanifin at the trade deadline?
Hanifin has a career-high 11 goals along with 35 points in 60 games with the Flames. The 27-year-old is a pending unrestricted free agent with a $4.95 million cap hit

Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers have a significantly stronger right-side for their defence pairings, with Aaron Ekblad, Brandon Montour, and Dmitry Kulikov. The left-side doesn’t have the same depth, as Gustav Forsling, Niko Mikkola, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson make up the three defence pairings according to Daily Faceoff’s daily line combinations.
So, it makes sense when ESPN’s Kevin Weekes says that the Panthers are interested in adding Hanifin, who’d likely slot alongside Ekblad.
As it stands, the Panthers have $5,255,147 in current cap space, so adding Hanifin shouldn’t be too much of an issue. The question becomes, does Hanifin get an extension in the trade? Of course, that would increase Hanifin’s value. 
The dream is to land centre Anton Lundell, who has eight goals and 26 points in 57 games this season, with a career-high 18 goals and 44 points in 2021-22. Moreover, he’s still on his entry-level contract and could benefit from being elevated to the second line.
Still, Florida doesn’t have either of the firsts for the next two seasons and traded away their second-round pick for 2024 as well.

Boston Bruins

Trading Hanifin to Boston makes sense, as the 27-year-old grew up in the Boston area, so there’s a fit there. However, question arise when we look at their left-shot defenceman depth, as well as potential assets they’d need to give up.
According to Daily Faceoff’s daily line combinations, the three defencemen on the left side are Matt Grzelcyk, Mason Lohrei, and Parker Wotherspoon. While Lohrei has played well in his 33 National Hockey League games, he has very limited professional experience playing just 55 games between the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League. 
It’s also worth mentioning that Derek Forbort and Hampus Lindholm are both left-shot defencemen, with the former being a healthy scratch in recent time and the latter on the injured reserve.
In terms of assets, Matthew Poitras is the most interesting asset they have, as he has five goals and 15 points in 33 games with the Bruins this season. However, he’s out for the season due to shoulder surgery (not a good sign). They also had the third-worst farm system in the league according to The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler
The Boston Bruins are money in, money out, meaning that with just $57,500 in available cap space, they’d have to move someone with a near identical value. A potential candidate is Jake DeBrusk, who is a pending unrestricted free agent with a $4 million cap hit. In fact, the NHL Network’s official Twitter account posted an interesting trade which included a first, DeBrusk, and their top prospect, Fabian Lysell (who is a winger).
There may not be an immediate need as Forbort’s contract expires at the end of the season, but that doesn’t stop the Bruins from being interested in Hanifin according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun. It doesn’t help that the Bruins don’t have any of their top three picks for the upcoming draft and have one of the weakest farm systems in the league. Still, perhaps the Flames would be intrigued if they were to part with Lysell, Poitras, and/or their 2025 first-round pick.

Tampa Bay Lightning

If Hanifin had any choice in the matter, which he probably does because an extension would net the Flames more, Tampa would be his destination according to Elliotte Friedman.

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With a season-ending injury to Mikhail Sergachev, the Lightning have a need for a defenceman and the cap space to absorb Hanifin’s cap hit. However, they don’t really have the assets as their farm system is marginally better than the Bruins’ according to Wheeler.
According to Puckpedia, they don’t have their first or second in the 2024 draft, as well as their 2025 first-round pick either. Their best prospect is Isaac Howard, a left winger who has eight goals and 31 points in 32 games for Michigan State University. During the 2024 World Juniors, he scored seven goals and nine points in seven games.
Another prospect who could be of interest is right-shot defenceman Jack Thompson. This season, the 21-year-old has five goals and 32 points in 46 games with the AHL Syracuse Crunch.
Hanifin may want to play for the Lightning, and the Lightning have a need and the cap space for his contract, they don’t really have the assets to pull off a deal, especially if it comes with a contract extension.

Vegas Golden Knights

On a recent Daily Faceoff Live, Frank Seravalli speculated that there could be two Western Conference teams interested in Hanifin, but we’ll start with the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Vegas Golden Knights. 

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On the left side, the Golden Knights have Alec Martinez, Brayden McNabb, and Nicolas Hauge, not an awful left-side by any means. Moreover, Shea Theodore is left-handed but plays on the right-side as the Golden Knights’ depth on the right-side is questionable at best, according to Daily Faceoff’s daily line combinations.
Still, the Golden Knights have the available cap to absorb Hanifin’s contract, as captain Mark Stone hit the long-term injured list due to a lacerated spleen, ow, and will be out for the rest of the regular season. Now with $7,276,683 in cap space, the Golden Knights could look to upgrade both their defence core and forward core.
Unlike the other three teams we’ve looked at so far, Vegas has all of their first-round and second-round picks for the next four seasons. According to Wheeler, the Golden Knights have the 23rd-best farm system in the league, their top prospect is a centre in David Edstrom and their second-best prospect is left-shot defenceman Lukas Cormier

Los Angeles Kings

As it stands right now, the Los Angeles Kings have $2,582,521 in cap space, but with Adrian Kempe and Mikey Anderson being week-to-week, they may need to add significantly at the deadline, even if those two players don’t hit the long-term injured reserve.
With Anderson’s injury, the Kings called up Jacob Moverare and placed him on the left-side of Drew Doughty. To round out their last two pairings, Vladislav Gavrikov is on the second pairing with Matt Roy, while Andreas Englund is on the third pairing with Jordan Spence. This is according to Daily Faceoff’s daily lineup tool.
It seems less than ideal for a team battling for a playoff spot to have a player with 30 National Hockey League games on the top pairing, but that is the case for the Kings for now. Adding a player like Hanifin allows the Kings to send Moverare down and give them a ton of defensive depth once Anderson returns.
According to Mitchell, the Kings have the 17th-best farm system in the league with several young players. The most interesting player is Alex Turcotte, who was selected with the fifth-overall pick in 2019, but has just one goal in 24 NHL games. A change of scenery may do him so good, and the Flames need centres as well. The same could be said for Arthur Kaliyev, who’s name was in trade rumours earlier this season. 
As for their 2024 picks, the Kings only have their first, fourth, sixth, and seventh-rounders in 2024. However they have no missing picks in 2025 and beyond.
Out of any teams we’ve looked at, the Kings have the most interesting assets, as they have young players who can help the Flames immediately, as well as the picks that could be involved with an extension in place.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.
Get ready for the Daily Faceoff Live Trade Deadline Show, coming to you on March 8th LIVE from 11 AM to 3 PM EST!! Join Tyler Yaremchuk, Frank Seravalli and friends for 4 hours of non-stop action as they dive deep into the heart of the trade deadline. They will be breaking down every trade, discussing the impact on teams, predicting the playoff picture, and giving you the inside scoop on all the wheeling and dealing happening around the league. Tune in live on March 8th from 11 AM to 3 PM EST for the The Daily Faceoff Live Trade Deadline special you won’t want to miss!

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