Since the news of last week’s big trade that sent Nikita Zadorov from the Calgary Flames to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a pair of draft picks (2024 fifth, 2026 third), buzz has picked up surrounding the futures of another couple of Flames defencemen: Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev. Whether they’re traded or extended, one thing that’s clear is that Calgary Flames GM Craig Conroy is committed to avoiding similar situations to the one that resulted in Johnny Gaudreau walking in free agency, which left the Flames collecting zilch, aside for cap space, in return for the best player to wear the Flaming C since Jarome Iginla. In simple terms: don’t expect the March 8th, 2024 trade deadline to pass without Hanifin and Tanev trades and/or extensions in place.
Without Hanifin and Tanev in the lineup and assuming Oliver Kylington will not be back in action in the next few months, the Flames would certainly be thin on the blueline. Here’s what the defence pairings could look like if both Hanifin and Tanev are dealt this season:
Weegar – Andersson
Gilbert – Oesterle
Solovyov – Pysyk
Poirier – DeSimone
With Zadorov already gone, moving Hanifin and Tanev would result in an AHL-calibre D-corps from the second pairing down.
When I look at that potential Calgary Flames defence, I totally understand the sentiment from some fans who would support an extension for one or both of 55 and 8. The smooth-skating Noah Hanifin will only be 27 in March and may not have hit his ceiling yet. Chris Tanev is a lead-by-example veteran who makes his D partners better and blocks shots with his face. There are valid arguments for keeping one of the two, even if the Flames elect to retool/rebuild and sell at the deadline.
However, my overall stance is that it’s time for the club to get younger and that the remaining big three UFAs (Elias Lindholm, Hanifin, Tanev) should be traded versus extended. The prospective value of the assets that could be acquired in exchange for Hanifin and Tanev (picks, prospects, and cap space) exceeds the value of keeping these players on the roster long-term for big money; if extended, Hanifin and Tanev would both require notable salary raises and term. Unfortunately, I don’t think a two-year deal at the same AAV is an option for Tanev and Hanifin would likely be looking for upwards of $7 million per year on a seven or eight-year extension.
What could the return look like for Hanifin and Tanev?
I am not a trade market expert, I do not have access to all 32 NHL GMs, and in the salary cap era, cap space is always a variable to consider as well, so predicting the price tag for Hanifin or Tanev is an exercise I’ll stay away from. What I will mention is that each of Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev will pull in more than a 2026 third and a 2024 fifth round pick. If the Flames could scoop up a top prospect and a first round pick among other assets, I wouldn’t expect fans to be as disappointed as they were with the Zadorov return.
Some noteworthy defencemen were dealt leading up to the trade deadline last season that could serve as food for thought on the topic:
- The Arizona Coyotes retrieved a 2026 third round draft pick from Carolina in exchange for Shayne Gostisbehere on March 1, 2023.
- On the same day, the Coyotes also pulled in a stack of draft picks from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Jacob Chychrun (2023 conditional first, 2024 conditional second originally belonging to the Washington Capitals, 2026 second).
- Also on March 1 of last season, the Vancouver Canucks paid a pretty penny for Filip Hronek and a 2023 fourth round pick, sending the Detroit Red Wings a 2023 first round pick they’d acquired from the Islanders in the Bo Horvat trade and a 2023 second.
- The Oilers sent a 2023 first round pick and a 2023 fourth to Nashville to bring in Mattias Ekholm and a 2024 sixth round pick from Nashville on February 28.
- Trading for Luke Schenn from the Canucks cost the Maple Leafs a 2023 third round pick on February 28.
- Pierre Engvall was sent to the Islanders from the Leafs 2024 third round pick on February 28.
- The Washington Capitals sent the Maple Leafs a 2023 first round pick (BOS) and Erik Gustafsson for Rasmus Sandin.
- The Chicago Blackhawks received a 2024 top-ten protected first round pick as part of the trade that sent Jake McCabe to the Leafs.
The Nikita Zadorov trade happened when it did because of the player’s public trade request and resulting tension within the Flames organization. I would not expect there to be the same level of urgency when it comes to trading 55 or 8. Market demand should increase as the deadline gets nearer, while the remaining 2023-24 cap hits for each player will decrease, meaning a deal in February or early March is more realistic than December or January.
What if the market for Hanifin and Tanev is not up to expectations?
Trading these players depends on the trade market for defencemen. Many Flames fans were underwhelmed with Conroy’s return for Zadorov, even though we can confidently trust that the Canucks had the best offer on the table. If too many teams are strapped for cap space and/or are unwilling to part with the assets it would take to bring in Hanifin or Tanev, Conroy could elect to stick to his guns and not trade either player, instead opting to sign, trade, or sign-and-trade in the offseason prior to free agency in July.
For the reasons mentioned above (Hanifin’s playing style and age, Tanev’s leadership and ability to incubate developing D-men), I would not be furious if one of the two was to be extended with Calgary. Ultimately, though, whether or not the Flames are in the hunt for a playoff spot, trading both big name defencemen could be the smartest and least emotional move.
Do Calgary Flames fans support trades, extensions, or one of each when it comes Hanifin and Tanev?
I threw a poll up on Twitter/X to find out the answer to this question:
At the time of publishing, 164 people had voted with 48.8 percent in favour of trading both players, 19.5 percent for extending Tanev and trading Hanifin, 17.7 percent for extending Hanifin and trading Tanev, and 14 percent in favour of re-signing both players.