Did the latest NHL trade news on the Calgary Flames shift the interest of Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney back to Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin?
The NHL betting odds that Hanfin will be dealt increased on Thursday as contract talks between him and the Flames appear to be done and after the Flames traded away another defenseman.
As reported here earlier this week, Sweeney has once again been searching for a defenseman on the NHL trade market. Based on the Bruins’ lack of a more physical presence on the blue line, inability to defend against the rush for about the last ten games, and goals allowed in their last five games, the speculation here was that Sweeney had circled back on 6-foot-6, 248-pound defenseman Nikita Zadorov. Well, if he was vying for Zadorov, whatever he offered didn’t work because on Thursday night, the Flames dealt the 29-year-old and potential 2024 unrestricted free agent to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a 2024 fifth round draft pick and a 2026 third round pick.
General Manager Patrik Allvin announced today that the #Canucks have acquired D Nikita Zadorov from the Calgary Flames in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft (acquired from CHI) and a third-round pick in 2026.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) November 30, 2023
Earlier in the day, TSN and Athletic NHL Insider Pierre LeBrun confirmed reports from earlier in the month that Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin, a pending UFA himself, had decided to halt contract talks with the Flames. According to LeBrun, the Flames and the Norwood, MA native were closing in on an eight-year, roughly $60 million deal, which would have carried an average annual value of around $7.5 million. Flames general manager Craig Conroy apparently got tired of waiting and pulled the offer off the table. However, according to LeBrun, that still doesn’t rule out the chance that the Flames do wind up signing Hanfin and then trading him away.
“I still expect, for example, Hanifin to get dealt at some point,” LeBrun said on SportsCenter with Jay Onrait on Tuesday. “In his case, the idea from everyone involved is that he gets dealt as a signed player – that there’s an extension in place for him wherever he ends up.
Certainly, I would say there’s less urgency now for the Flames to have to start moving bodies because they are playing good hockey (and) they’re back in it. But I don’t know why it would change unless you’re extending some of these guys. Why would it change between now and [the March 8 trade deadline]? Even if you make the playoffs, how deep in the playoffs is this Calgary Flames team going to go? You need to get assets back for some of these guys.”
Well, clearly, LeBrun was incorrect on when the Flames would start wheeling and dealing, but according to an NHL source close to the situation, he’s absolutely correct that they would be willing to do a sign-and-trade of Hanifin. This source also believes that a smart NHL betting move would be to bet on the Bruins being a frontrunner to acquire the former Boston College defenseman that Sweeney tried to trade up to acquire at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and has coveted ever since.
“If I was a betting man, I’d be betting on the Bruins to eventually get Hanifin. I’d be shocked if Boston isn’t at the front of the line there,” the source said.
Could it be that once Sweeney was informed that the Flames and Hanifin were done talking, Sweeney switched his trade focus back to Hanifin, and that’s why he wouldn’t even surrender the return the Flames got for Zadorv from the Canucks?
That could not be confirmed on Thursday night, but it’s pretty clear that Sweeney and Conroy have been and will likely continue to be engaged in trade talks. It also appears that he has not given up on acquiring his white whale in Hanifin.