After weeks and weeks of speculation and some legitimate concern on the part of fans in Calgary we now have our first real update on the ongoing contract negotiations between defenseman Noah Hanifin and the Calgary Flames.
NHL.com's Dan Rosen had a chance to catch up with the 21 year old blue liner this evening and spoke to him directly about the contract talks that have now dragged out late into the summer. I'm happy to say for fans in Calgary that based on what Rosen is now reporting things are looking extremely promising in regards to the Flames getting a deal done here. Hanifin informed Rosen that he is "super close" to signing a new deal and fully intends to have his contract in place before Flames players are expected to report for training camp on September 9th.
This is excellent news for the Flames and especially so for Flames general manager Brad Treliving who took a bit risk this summer when he traded established National Hockey League defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Carolina Hurricanes for Hanifin and center Elias Lindholm. At the time of the trade both men were restricted free agents and both men had reportedly failed to come close to a deal with their former team, Hamilton on the other hand was locked in to a long term deal with the Flames at the time of the trade.
The Flames got Lindholm locked up pretty quickly by signing him to a 6 year contract and although some felt that the $4.85 million per season that the Flames gave him was an overpay the deal could end up looking amazing for Treliving and the Flames in Lidnholm continues to develop. Hanifin is a similar position and my guess is that the reason this deal has taken so long to put together is due to the fact that the Flames are hoping to get Hanifin locked in for something long term. Hanifin certainly has some improving to do if he's going to live up to the pedigree that saw him selected 5th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft but it's clear that based on the move they made the Flames believe he will do just that. At 21 years old Hanifin could end up breaking the bank for the Flames if he were to perform at a high level on a bridge deal, and I fully expect Treliving is aware of this and is going for a home run here.
Long term deals, especially those for exceptionally young players at key positions, are much more difficult to negotiate due to the fact that teams are paying both for potential as well as the unrestricted free agency years that they purchase on those long term deals. Hanifin's representation would be certain to seek a large number on a long term deal while Treliving on the other side of the negotiation table would be doing his best to negotiate a reasonable cap hit. If Treliving does get the long term deal done and Hanifin does develop into the player he is expected to be this could look like a pair of terrific signings from Treliving for a long time to come.