Is it just me, or does it seem that every player that new Toronto Maple Leafs’ general manager (GM) Brad Treliving ever talked to when he was the Calgary Flames’ GM is now on the Maple Leafs “gotta-have” list? I get it that it worked the other way when former Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas was around. It seemed that any player who ever played with the Soo Greyhounds eventually landed in Toronto with the Maple Leafs.
That said, …
Now Top-Pairing Noah Hanifin Is on Treliving’s Get List
Now it seems there are rumors that Trelving might be interested in trading for Flames’ top-pairing defenseman Noah Hanifin – again. I say again because he brought Hanifin to Calgary from the Carolina Hurricanes once before and the situation is right for the Flames to trade him now.
Such a trade also makes sense from the Maple Leafs’ perspective. The team has long been searching for a reliable top-four defenseman to add skill to its blue line. This fact fits with the recent news that Flames’ defenseman Hanifin may be available on the trade market. Ergo, the Maple Leafs need him.
Perhaps This Is all Smoke and Mirrors, but Hanifin Is Worth Considering
If the truth is that all NHL GMs must consider every opportunity, then Treliving should consider exploring the possibility of bringing in the talented Hanifin.
What are Hanifin’s situation, his skill set, and the potential implications for trading him from the Flames to the Maple Leafs?
What Is Hanifin’s Contract and Situation?
One of Treliving’s significant trades as Flames’ GM was to bring in Hanifin and Elias Lindholm from the Hurricanes. When Hanifin landed in Calgary, he signed a six-year contract. That contract expires at the end of next season.
Recent reports suggest that Hanifin has told Calgary that he’s not interested in re-signing. Given that no NHL team wants to have a lame duck – especially a really valuable one – waiting to walk to free agency, that raises the real possibility of a trade this offseason.
You gotta know that Treliving is all over this idea. He liked Hanifin before; and, unless things soured that we don’t know about, he continues to still like him. Obviously, the Maple Leafs are paying attention.
What Is Hanifin’s Skill Set?
Hanifin is a 26-year-old, highly-skilled top-pairing defenseman. He’s a capable addition to any NHL team. Last previous season, he registered an impressive 38 points in 81 games. So, he can generate offense. He’s a smooth skater, with a high hockey IQ, and he has exceptional on-ice vision.
Bringing in Hanifin could provide a boost to the Maple Leafs’ defensive core. He’d be the team’s best defenseman not named Morgan Rielly.
Such a Trade Would Be Challenging
A trade involving Hanifin would likely come at a steep price. Except, there’s one wrinkle. The Flames would be motivated to move him rather than take him into next season on an expiring contract. Because Hanifin has an eight-team no-trade clause, should the Maple Leafs bring him in, the team needs to be certain that Hanifin would sign a long-term extension before they made the move.
The situation would be an interesting opportunity for the Maple Leafs, if … That “if” is whether Hanifin would be open to staying in Toronto.
Who Would the Maple Leafs Need to Trade to Bring in Hanifin?
To bring in Hanifin, the speculation I’ve heard is that the Maple Leafs would need to put together a trade package that would include defenseman Timothy Liljegren, a draft pick, and a defensive prospect. That prospect could be Topi Niemela.
Flames GM Craig Conroy would likely part with Hanifin to acquire Liljegren and Niemela. But, who knows?
The Bottom Line
The Maple Leafs could use a top-four defenseman. Hanifin could potentially be that player. If the deal above could go through, the team would be able to retain its offensive core plus actually add to it from the back end.
The trade is tricky because, while the Flames would want to trade someone with an expiring contract, the Maple Leafs wouldn’t want to put themselves in the situation when they take on such an albatross.
If this rumor is a “thing,” we should know soon. Both teams would want to make it happen in the next few weeks. Will Treliving’s interest be continued in his new job with the Maple Leafs? Will Hanifin sign a contract extension if he were brought to Toronto?
So many what-ifs.
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