Insider reveals Leafs are the only Canadian team that one top deadline target would play for

Ryan Smitheram
February 20, 2024  (10:23)

Noah Hanifin will be a sought after defenseman until the trade deadline
Photo credit: NHL

With the aging Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie being free agents at the end of the season, and Timothy Liljegren and Simon Benoit set to become RFA's, the Toronto Maple Leafs have only Morgan Rielly and Jake McCabe available to play on the left side of their blueline next season. For years, many have said that the Leafs need to acquire a right-shot defenseman, preferably a top-2 or top-4 option that can play with Rielly and solidify the blueline. However, with Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin available leading up to the trade deadline, the Leafs would be foolish to not attempt to acquire him, even though he shoots left.

The 27-year-old former first-round pick will be a UFA like Brodie and Giordano at the end of the season, but has plenty of years left in his career. The 6'3, 207 pound, lefty has had opportunities to re-sign in Calgary with the latest reports suggesting an 8-year, $60M deal is and has been on the table. Since he remains unsigned, reports have also suggested that while the Flames are listening to offers for the blueliner, that he would prefer to play in the U.S. and be closer to his hometown of Boston.
If you think this article is about the doom and gloom about the Leafs missing out on their man, not so fast. According to TSN's Chris Johnston on "First Up" this morning, the Leafs are the only Canadian team still in the running.
"If Noah Hanifin was moved, I think certainly a place like Toronto would appeal to him. I don't think the Leafs are on his no-trade list... I look around Canada and I just don't see other teams that are looking to upgrade at that level on their blueline. So really, we're talking about the Leafs or the U.S. field."

In the final year of his current 6-year deal that current Leafs GM Brad Treliving signed Hanifin to in 2018, he carries a cap hit of $4.95M this season, so any deal the Leafs look to make to acquire the dynamic blueliner will require either retention, current roster players being moved or both.
In 56 games with the Flames this season, Hanifin has 9 goals and 30 points and plays in all situations. He's the Flames' top penalty killing defenseman and also sees time on their 2nd powerplay unit.
In 654 career games, Hanifin has registered 58 goals and 269 points with Carolina and Calgary.
20 FEVRIER   |   658 ANSWERS
Insider reveals Leafs are the only Canadian team that one top deadline target would play for

Should the Leafs forgo a right-shot defenseman and acquire Hanifin instead?

Yes24837.7 %
No26239.8 %
They can get both if they want to pay up14822.5 %
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