Florida Panthers: Exploring the Possibility of Acquiring Noah Hanifin

RALEIGH, NC - FEBRUARY 2: Noah Hanifin #5 of the Carolina Hurricanes sends a pass to Joakim Nordstrom #42 during an NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings on February 2, 2018 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - FEBRUARY 2: Noah Hanifin #5 of the Carolina Hurricanes sends a pass to Joakim Nordstrom #42 during an NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings on February 2, 2018 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Florida Panthers desperately covet a potent top 4 defenseman, one in which would fit seamlessly with the likes of Michael Matheson on the 2nd pairing, presumably. In essence, should General Manager Dale Tallon trade indispensable assets as means of acquiring the star-studded Hurricanes defenseman?

With the eventful 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs nearing a conclusion, the highly awaited NHL offseason will soon become officially underway. A name heavily mentioned and discussed in trade rumors: Noah Hanifin of the Carolina Hurricanes.

The 21-year-old, Boston native experienced a simply phenomenal offensive 2017-18 campaign for the overachieving Carolina Hurricanes club. While participating in 79 regular season contests, Hanifin registered a solid offensive slash line of 10G, 22A, and 32 points, earning himself a well-deserved all-star game selection, becoming the Canes’ sole representative.

Essentially, as a young two-way defenseman, Noah has displayed remarkable flashes of greatness on the offensive side of the puck. During the 2016-17 NHL campaign, as a merely inexperienced 20-year-old sophomore in the National Hockey League, Noah Hanifin tallied 4G, 25A, and 29 points, taking action in 81 NHL games.

Quite frankly, Hanifin has clearly established himself as a premier offensive-defenseman, registering point totals in consecutive years of 22, 29, 32, respectively. Moreover, Noah has solely missed a combined total of 7 regular season games, hence, conveying how Hanifin seems incredibly durable and frequently healthy.

In addition, considering Carolina has informed practically the entire pool of NHL general managers of the availability of high-quality players, such as Noah Hanifin, Jeff Skinner, and Jordan Staal, the Florida Panthers would appear foolish if they didn’t pounce on Noah Hanifin. With Hanifin’s rookie contract set to expire, CAR has evidently expressed how they would appear unlikely in signing Hanifin long-term.

Ultimately, the price/demand for Hanifin’s services will undeniably be high; however, the Panthers would instantly address a glaring need and increase their playoff probabilities dramatically from the back end alone. A 21-year-old proven all-star D-man for sale would be typically rare and unavailable via trade, so making a valid attempt for Noah should at least be considered from Tallon himself.

While Noah’s offensive abilities are evidently strong and awfully impressive, Hanifin’s defensive capabilities are quite the opposite (at least in the previous two seasons). In all three seasons since entering the NHL, Noah has been a minus in the +/- column, with 2017-18 being his worst, holding a -20 figure. What’s also gruesome to see is his Expected Goals Against Per 60 minutes (xGA/60).

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This past year, Noah held a xGA/60 figure of 2.24, while the previous two seasons before, he recorded 2.56 (2016-17) and 2.62 (2015-16). Adding onto that in a similar category, Noah finished off 2017-18 with a 2.71 figure in Goals Against Per 60 (GA/60), with this latest number being his career-worst in this department. His analytics show that while he’s strong offensively, it’s his defensive game that needs work, and with better deployment and usage down the line, that could very well round out his game defensively.

Perhaps, Hanifin could flourish under Florida’s defensive system, where bench boss Bob Boughner would provide Noah with significantly more minutes on a game-by-game basis – Hanifin’s career-high in ATOI was 18:52 minutes – along with better deployment that would set him up for success defensively.

In essence, Hanifin could become partnered with an exceptionally skilled offensive-minded defenseman, such as Michael Matheson or Aaron Ekblad, which could unquestionably stabilize Florida’s defensive corps. In potentially acquiring Hanifin, defensive-minded and spirited Head Coach Bob Boughner would instantly become presented with more options regarding mixing and matching various line combinations on defense.

Noah would nicely compliment the game of Matheson, for instance, allowing Noah’s D-partner the opportunity of jumping up offensively more frequently and joining in on the rush, and vice-versa. Although, while it’s fun to dream of this happening, it’s realistic to note that formulating a relatively compelling package to Carolina for Hanifin seems as the largest obstacle, currently.

The Hurricanes could easily command Florida’s highly touted prospects, such as Owen Tippett, Henrik Borgström, Max Gildon, or even Aleksi Heponiemi in a package deal. In addition, CAR could unsurprisingly raise their asking price by desiring several of FLA’s productive NHL players, such as Nick Bjugstad or maybe even Vincent Trocheck.

Considering Carolina isn’t necessarily attempting to acquire players containing expensive yearly salaries, prospects and draft selections would appear most likely involved in a package for Noah Hanifin. Furthermore, there would be a strong case made for Carolina to demand a trade in the field for Florida’s 15th or 33rd overall draft selection, Ian McCoshen or Alexander Petrovic, along with a high-quality prospect in exchange for the American born defenseman.

Although the likelihood of Florida attaining Hanifin via trade appears incredibly unlikely, especially with FLA’s recent acquisition of KHL defenseman Bogdan Kiselevich, Dale Tallon should certainly consider calling and checking in on Hanifin’s availability.

Next: Should the Florida Panthers Trade James Reimer this Summer?

If the demands for Noah’s services suddenly begin to decline (doubtful), swooping in and finalizing a trade agreement between both sides regarding Noah Hanifin as the primary centerpiece would ultimately become the steal of the 2018 NHL offseason, without a doubt.