Insider: Hanifin Expresses Team He'd Prefer To Sign With Long-Term

The word broke this weekend that the Calgary Flames have essentially been told that top defenseman and impending UFA Noah Hanifin will not be re-signing, and he's entered the trade market. But according to Daily Faceoff hockey insider Frank Seravalli on his DFO podcast, the Boston native and former No. 5 overall selection has expressed to Calgary his preferred landing spot, when all is said and done.

The indication that I have is, if you were to pinpoint it on a map, I think the Hanifan camp has expressed to the Flames that he has interest in signing in Tampa Bay... I don't know how mutual it is, but the Lightning are in need of defense.

Whether the Bolts are able to come up with the assets to make that work now at the trade deadline is uncertain, and it's possible that they just might have to wait until Hanifin hits unrestricted free agency this summer—assuming, of course, that he doesn't fall in love with some other team that he's traded to by March 8th. That's the risk that Tampa Bay would take if they can't engineer something before the deadline. 

As far as a trade, the Lightning don't really have the assets at this point—they don't have a first-round pick to offer until 2026. And when it comes to waiting until free agency, according to Seravalli after some rough calculations, they could have about $10 million in cap space to sign both Hanifin and their own impending UFA Steve Stamkos. That sounds kind of tight, as the 27-year-old Hanifin will be looking for a sizeable raise from his current $4.95 million AAV.

In the meantime, the Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils, NY Islanders and Vegas Golden Knights are the only other teams he can see making a deal for Hanifin, as he's made it pretty clear that he wants to be with a U.S.-based team.

"He's not necessarily going to be traded to the place that he's going to end up," concludes Seravalli.

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