The Noah Hanifin to the Bruins trade rumors started back in October but quieted down for a little while about a week or so after free agency. However, they’re back now, and I can’t say I’m thrilled about it. They don’t appear to be serious, and according to this article, talks may not even be happening right now. But, they did at some point. Not only do I think Hanifin wouldn’t fit in well in Boston, but even if he did, this trade would have major ramifications for the team’s future. So, without further ado, let’s dig into this a bit.
Noah Hanifin Is Not As Good As Some People Think
To begin, Hanifin simply isn’t as good as people think he is. To give a little bit of perspective, take a look at the graphs below. Simply put, red is bad, blue is good, and the darker the color, the more extreme it is.
Advanced stats aren’t everything on their own. But, when they back up at least some aspects of the eye test, they paint a clear picture. In this case, they back up at least my eye test. Hanifin is not good at suppressing shots, and correct me if I’m wrong, but as a defenseman, that seems like an important skill to have. Granted, he did a good job last year in the slot, and that’s his primary responsibility as a defenseman. But, it isn’t his only one. Defensemen have to block outside shots, get in the lanes so opponents don’t even take shots, and generally do everything they can to make sure the goalie is as bored as possible. That just didn’t happen with Hanifin on the ice last year.
Also, according to several people who follow the Flames much closer than I do and who cover the team, while Hanifin has potential and has shown it in flashes, he has a tendency to coast through some games. While that’s not a reason to give up him, that kind of play won’t fly in Boston. Cassidy, Chara, and the team as a whole demand hustle, hard work, and a good attitude from every player 100% of the time (hence why Cehlarik didn’t work out). Hanifin doesn’t always hustle and/or work hard. So, for that reason alone, he’d be a bad fit.
No Reason to Give Up Kase
The player the Flames were reportedly the most interested in getting in return for Noah Hanifin was Ondrej Kase. However, Kase is a player I absolutely would not want to give up right now. Yes, he’s been injury-prone, but that isn’t a reason to ditch him, as that could change. Also, people are way too hard on him for his time in Boston so far. But, he’s only played 17 games for the Bruins. Only six of those came before the bubble, and he was coming off a concussion then. The rest came during the bubble, where he was thrown right into the fire after missing the entirety of training camp. Players always take time to adjust to new teams. Then, he had to deal with being expected to play good playoff hockey (which he had little experience with from his time with the Ducks) immediately after not playing for five months. Combine those two things and no offense, but you’re crazy if you expected him to be good.
Plus, Kase actually had a good bubble performance. He may not have scored, but he had great hustle and built chemistry with Krejci and DeBrusk pretty quickly. However, a lot of Bruins fans seem to think players are worthless just because they don’t score much (case in point: Danton Heinen). However, that’s just not the case. Even if it was, give Kase training camp and actual consistent time with DeBrusk and Krejci, and you better believe that scoring touch will come back and be better than ever before.
Kase Wouldn’t Be the Only Thing Going Back
Also, Kase wouldn’t be the only player going back the other way in a Noah Hanifin trade. I think it’s a safe bet the Bruins would have to give up at least a decent prospect such as Urho Vaakanainen as well. That’s just not worth it. Why trade a good forward and a promising young left defense prospect who should be ready soon for a left defenseman who may never live up to his hype? It simply makes no sense.
Another reason why Hanifin wouldn’t be the only thing going back is the salary cap. The Bruins currently have $2,982,686 in cap space to work with right now. That’s without a new contract for Chara, which is likely coming after the NHL officially announces their season plan. Once you take that out, you’re looking at somewhere under $2 million, maybe even under $1 million. Hanifin’s cap hit is a whopping $4.95 million. Kase’s contract coming off the books would only shed $2.6 million.
So, more money has to be cleared somehow, especially since Sweeney isn’t usually one to go into a season without a few million in cap space for flexibility reasons. It’s unlikely the Flames would retain salary without a sweetener. So, that means that no matter what, the Bruins would have to give up even more than just Hanifin and someone like Vaakanainen, which makes it even less worth it.
Is Hanifin Even Needed?
The other thing that’s getting me about this trade rumor is I’m really not convinced Hanifin is necessary. The Bruins seem extremely confident that Jakub Zboril is ready to take the next step. They seem pretty set on giving him a shot this season. With Chara most likely coming back since the season won’t be played in a bubble, that would mean the Bruins have their three left-shot defensemen. Jeremy Lauzon and Connor Clifton can also play their off-side if needed, although they’re better on the right. We also can’t forget about John Moore. He’s certainly not the answer but he can fill in if needed.
So, why do the Bruins need another left-shot defenseman? Yes, it’s true that they won’t be as strong on the left with Krug gone. But, they also won’t be awful. Zboril definitely seems ready to take the next step, and he deserves the chance to do so.
The Kraken Are Coming
Now we arrive at perhaps the biggest reason why I don’t want to see this happen. The expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken is next summer. Acquiring Hanifin would mean the Bruins will lose either him or Grzelcyk because they are all but guaranteed to go with the 7-3-1 format. So, that means you’re either giving up an incredibly underrated defenseman, or trading Kase and at least one prospect for one year of Hanifin. I hate both those options with a burning passion. I don’t even feel like I have to go into it much because it’s pretty clear why losing a great player for nothing is bad. Forgetting everything else I’ve mentioned above, this should be enough to convince people that trading for Hanifin would be a bad idea.
Stay Away From Hanifin
In short, Noah Hanifin simply isn’t a good idea for Boston. He’s not as good as people think he is, generally wouldn’t be a good fit due to his tendency to coast at times, and I honestly don’t think he’s needed. I think part of the reason why people want him so bad is that he went to Boston College and is from Massachusetts. Bruins fans and the organization love their hometown players, but that doesn’t mean they should get all of them. Also, giving up on Kase now would be a huge mistake, just like giving up at least one good prospect in addition to him would be. Last but not least, acquiring Hanifin means the Kraken either get him or Grzelcyk, both of which would be terrible for the Bruins.
So, yeah, acquiring Noah Hanifin would be a big mistake in my opinion. Hopefully, the talks have died off completely or stay as just that, talks. If they don’t, the Bruins will be much worse off for it.
-Lydia Murray (@lydia_murray12)
Featured image courtesy of Derek Leung/Getty Images
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