What should the Calgary Flames do with Noah Hanifin?

Photo credit:Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Munnich
11 months ago
26-year-old defenceman Noah Hanifin just completed his fifth season with the Calgary Flames. Hanifin has been solid player for the Flames since being acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes in a draft day blockbuster trade in 2018.
The Flames have to make an important decision when it comes to Hanifin. Sign him to a long-term extension if he is open to it, or trade him before the 2024 trade deadline. Don Maloney and the new Flames GM can’t let an asset like Hanifin walk for nothing.
With that in mind, let’s examine what the best course of action for the Flames to take.

Reasons to keep Hanifin

He is a good player in his prime
One of the biggest reasons to keep Hanifin is because he has just entered his prime as a player. Hanifin will be 27 years old by the time a new contract extension would kick in. The Flames would lock him up for his age 27-34 years on an eight-year contract.
NHL teams have to be careful about committing seven or eight years to someone who is going to play into their mid thirties. But I don’t think that is the case with Hanifin. His game is all about skating and efficiency. Hanifin is not overly physical and plays a style of game that isn’t too difficult on his body, say like his teammate, Chris Tanev.
Hanifin projects to be very close to the player he is today when he is in his thirties.
And Hanifin is a solid top four defender who can play on both side of special teams. You can count on him to put up anywhere between 30-45 points a year. And we know he has good chemistry with Rasmus Andersson.
It’s going to be difficult to replace him
Replacing a top four defenceman who can skate like Hanifin can will be an incredibly difficult task for the new Flames management group.
The Flames would either have to trade multiple high-end assets to bring in someone the same or better calibre than Hanifin, or they would have to overpay someone in free agency. Both options are less than ideal.
The easiest way to replace someone like Hanifin would be internally with someone you drafted. But unfortunately for the Flames, they have one defensive prospect who is trending toward becoming a NHL defenceman in Jeremie Poirier.
The rest of their defensive prospects include Yan Kuznetsov, Ilya Solovyov, Jake Boltmann, Cole Jordan, and Cameron Whynot. None of those players are close to playing top four minutes in the NHL starting in 2024.

Reasons to trade him

His value will never be higher
Hanifin is likely at his peak trade value right now because of his age and the fact he has a modest cap hit of $4.95 million. That matters in a flat cap world where nearly every team is out of space.
It’s pretty clear that the Flames are not wanting to go into a rebuild. So trading Hanifin for picks and prospects doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
But there is a world where Calgary could make a “hockey trade” in which they move Hanifin in exchange for someone to help the Flames roster next season.
The only way I see that happening is if Hanifin tells the Flames he is not willing to sign a long term contract. Similar to what Matthew Tkachuk did last off-season.

What could his next contract look like?

Let’s take a look at some comparable contracts for Hanifin.
Colton Parayko8 Years, $6.5 million AAV
Ryan Pulock8 Years, $6.15 million AAV
Adam Pelech8 Years, $5.75 million AAV
Justin Faulk7 Years, $6.5 million AAV
Jonas Brodin7 Years, $6 million AAV
(Contract Information courtesy of CapFriendly)
It’s pretty clear that it is going to take at least a seven-year contract to sign Hanifin. My guess is that he will take nothing less than eight years to stay in Calgary.
A contract for Hanifin would be in the 8 year range with an average annual value of $6.5 million, totalling $46 million dollars.

What should the Flames do with Hanifin?

I think the Flames should do everything they can to sign Hanifin to a long-term contract. It would be incredibly difficult to replace him through free agency or trade. There are no prospects in the Flames system who are ready to replace him within the next few years.
Hanifin is also the best left shot defenceman on the team. After him on the depth chart is Oliver Kylington, Nikita Zadorov and Dennis Gilbert. I know Weegar can play on the left, but he is more effective on the right side.
If Hanifin refuses to sign long term, then you have to trade him. The Flames can not let a soon to be 27 year old top four defenceman walk for nothing.
They could make a hockey trade for another defenceman, or they could acquire draft picks and prospects and use those assets to make another trade. There are lots of options.
Overall, Hanifin is a very good player. He is just entering his prime. And his game is suited to long term success because of what a great skater he is. Sign him to a long term deal if you can. If not, trade him before the 2024 deadline.

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