The consensus around the Calgary Flames and their fanbase this season has been that selling their pending UFAs (Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov) is the best possible move, and through 24 games, they’ve already sold off one of those big names. Despite the Flames early season success, they still remain under .500 on the year, and with little chance of a Stanley Cup run in their future with this group, that begs the question, when will they sell off the next player from that UFA group?
Whether or not it happens soon, it’s becoming more and more clear that Calgary are getting interest for all of them, with Lindholm and Tanev’s market coming along slowly, but it may be Noah Hanifin who nets them the biggest return. The 26-year old has already played in 622 career games, tallying 54 goals and 251 points over that time, and after producing career highs of 48 and 38 points over the past two seasons, his value may never be higher.
While there’s many teams out there that could be interested in the talented young defenceman, with New Jersey, Toronto, Dallas and other teams being linked to him, the developing rumour around the NHL is that the Arizona Coyotes may be the team to watch in the race to land No. 55.
According to Friedman, the Coyotes have been the team most interested in Hanifin, and after losing Sean Durzi to a lower body injury, Darren Haynes is reporting that this interest could potentially ramp up soon. Despite being in fourth place in the Central Division, Arizona are just four points behind Colorado for the division lead, and with five straight wins against some tough competition, the connection certainly makes plenty of sense. Whether or not the Coyotes are Stanley Cup favourites, they need to start making some big moves to support their young talent, and with a bevy of young prospects and draft picks, this may be the time for them to become buyers.
On the Flames side of things, with impressive showings from Dennis Gilbert and Nick DeSimone, along with the potential return of Oliver Kylington and the arrival of Jeremie Poirier, there’s no better time for the Flames to sell high on Hanifin (both sides of that choice covered by site expert Brett here), so Arizona should be the perfect trade partner for Calgary. Whether or not the team are motivated to sell during a fantastic run of form is yet to be seen, but one thing is for certain; a rebuild or at least a re-tool is needed, and with Hanifin being non-committal to Calgary, the time is now to move him, and if the team want a return of young players and draft picks, then they should be hoping that the interest from the young, up-and-coming Coyotes is legitimate.