Will Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney take another shot at acquiring Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin on the NHL trade market?
One of the worst-kept secrets of Sweeney’s tenure as general manager of the Boston Bruins has been his pursuit of the Norwood, MA, native and former Boston College defenseman. It is well-known that Sweeney’s draft weekend trades at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft were part of a plan to acquire the fifth overall pick from the Carolina Hurricanes and draft Noah Hanifin. That didn’t pan out, and well, we don’t need to revisit what wound happening with the three consecutive first round picks Sweeney did make that year. His pursuit of Hanifin has never waned, though, and now the 26-year-old Hanifin is part of a group of Calgary Flames pending unrestricted free agents that will likely be moved by the March 8 NHL Trade deadline.
Last week’s very public trade request by one of those pending Flames’ UFAs, defenseman Nikita Zadorov, has reignited the NHL trade rumors that surrounded the Flames throughout this past offseason.
“The bottom line is this: the Zadorov trade request that came out Friday night was really just the tip of the iceberg – what teams are telling us is that the Flames are listening on other pending unrestricted free agents: Chris Tanev, Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm, the Flames are ready for a roster reset here,” TSN and Athletic NHL insider Pierre LeBrun said on the most recent edition of TSN Insider Trading.
According to LeBrun, Hanifin – who is in the final season of a six-year contract that carries a $4.9 million salary cap hit – was closing in on a contract extension with the Flames that would’ve netted him upwards of $60 million.
“Now, Hanifin almost signed an extension here last month, close to $60 million, but he decided he wanted to wait and think about things and now that ship has sailed,” LeBrun said. “The Flames are listening on these guys, but they’ve got no hurry; they have until March 8 for the trade deadline to seek a return on these players.”
Sweeney and the Bruins could decide to wait until next July, when they will have an expected $28.5 million or more in salary cap space, to try and sign the left-shot Hanifin off the free agent market, but then they’re taking the chance that he gets dealt somewhere else and signs an extension. The read here is that nothing is even close to imminent on this front, but it’s worth watching Sweeney as the NHL trade sweepstakes for Hanifin heat up again.