Noah Hanifin to Bruins, Matt Dumba to Maple Leafs and more trades we want to see

Every NHL trade deadline is unique and what sets the 2024 version apart are the ghosts of trade deadlines past. A lot of teams — Toronto, Boston, Florida, Tampa Bay — went all in the last couple of years, reinforcing teams that were already pretty good in hopes of winning a Stanley Cup.

Sadly, the downside of pushing all your chips in at one year’s trade deadline is that you only have a limited number of chips to push in at the next.

So, for example, the Lightning would like nothing better than to bid on Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin, who would be a perfect long-term fit as a No. 3 behind Victor Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev. But after giving up five draft picks to land Tanner Jeannot a year ago, the Lightning simply don’t have the assets to make a successful bid for Hanifin.

What about Florida? The Panthers have done a nice job of cobbling together a defense corps from the UFA market to get them over the early season hump when both Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour were recovering from offseason surgery. But four of their top six defensemen, including Montour, are on expiring contracts, so landing someone like Hanifin to help with this year’s playoff push makes a lot of sense. But Philadelphia owns Florida’s first in 2024 (for Claude Giroux) and Calgary already owns Florida’s first in 2025 (from the Matthew Tkachuk deal), so the Panthers don’t have a lot of assets left.

Toronto? The man who brought Hanifin to Calgary, Brad Treliving, now runs the Maple Leafs, but he inherited a team that doesn’t have a second-rounder for the next three years. A Hanifin homecoming to Boston would make for a wonderful story too, but what could the Bruins offer to get a deal done?

This is a problem and it isn’t just limited to the aforementioned Atlantic Division teams.

Leaguewide, GMs, who routinely saw teams surrender first-rounders for the likes of David Savard and Ben Chiarot, are hoping to land something similar for their own rentals and so far, they’re not having much luck.

In some ways, that is the overarching story as the March 8 trade deadline approaches — to see how long it takes to get the buyers and sellers on the same page in terms of what constitutes fair value. For now, after a brief flurry early that saw Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan traded, it’s caused some gridlock in the market.

Let’s see if we can help move the process along with a few thoughts and proposals of our own. Here are five trades I think should happen.

Arizona Coyotes trade Matt Dumba and a 2024 second-round draft choice to the Maple Leafs for Toronto’s 2024 first-rounder.
Toronto flips the second-rounder to the Calgary Flames for Chris Tanev. 

This is complicated, so let’s begin with three truths that appear to have been established already. One is that the Maple Leafs need at least one and potentially two defensemen to give themselves a legitimate shot at the 2024 Stanley Cup. Two, the most common currency they could potentially use to acquire a mid-range defenseman, second-round draft choices, are missing from their draft-choice inventory. Three, Toronto wants to make its trade-deadline moves without giving up an A-level prospect.

So a conundrum, and it leaves you asking the question: How do you get the reinforcements you need at the lowest price point possible?

Maybe this is how. Arizona has joined the ranks of the sellers because of its recent month-long nosedive, which means both Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker, two pending UFAs, are now probably in play.

What might Dumba return at the deadline? Well, he’s 29, makes only modest dollars ($3.9 million) and has basically morphed into a stay-at-home defenseman in the second half of his career. He only had six points in his first 47 games for Arizona, though he’s contributed more offensively of late. Also: He’s been in the playoffs eight of the past nine seasons and can provide a physical presence to a Maple Leafs defense corps that probably can use some help in that area.

In theory, Toronto could offer its first for Dumba, but ask for a second-rounder back. Arizona has three — its own, Washington’s and Florida’s. Maybe the Coyotes send Toronto the second of those three.

It’s reasonable to ask: Why would Arizona trade Dumba to Toronto simply for a draft choice upgrade? For one thing, it’s something they’ve prioritized in the past. Remember, at last year’s deadline, the Coyotes chose to trade Jakob Chychrun to Ottawa instead of a handful of other suitors because the first-rounder Ottawa was sending back was going to be a higher choice than they would have gotten from a team in a playoff position.

So, jumping into the 20s from the 40s at the 2024 draft, which is what giving up a second to acquire a first would accomplish — that would represent genuine value to the Coyotes.

Meanwhile, Toronto gets a valuable rental in Dumba, plus potentially the draft capital to meet Calgary’s asking price for Chris Tanev, a player the Leafs would like to add to play alongside Morgan Rielly on their first pair. And if they can’t get Tanev for a second, then the Leafs could potentially use the pick to shop elsewhere — for a Sean Walker, a Nick Seeler or an Ilya Lyubushkin. But either way, Toronto gets the upgrade it needs on defense and the cost is its own first-rounder.

Not ideal, but better than the alternatives — of either standing pat or giving up either Fraser Minten or Easton Cowan in the deal.

Calgary Flames trade Noah Hanifin to the Boston Bruins for Matthew Poitras, a 2026 second-rounder and a 2025 third-rounder. 

In theory, the template for a Hanifin-to-Boston trade would be the deal the Bruins made with Anaheim to acquire Hampus Lindholm in 2022: A first, two seconds, a decent player (Urho Vaakanainen) and a salary they wanted to dump (John Moore).

Boston was prepared to pay a king’s ransom because they were able to sign Lindholm to an extension (eight years, $52 million). Most believe Hanifin will go to market this summer and listen to offers, knowing someone will likely overpay to get him as a premier UFA. Hanifin, signed, should have similar value to Lindholm, but Hanifin as a rental would have to come at a discount. Is that where the Bruins should focus their efforts when help down the middle seems like a greater priority? Hard to say. But the Bruins are having another good season. In a year where there are no clear Stanley Cup favorites, getting a 23-minute-per-night defenseman to flesh out a D core that includes Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy greatly enhances their chances of success.

Presumably, they’ll have the money to spend to sign Hanifin in the offseason because the $4.5 million in carryover overage bonuses for Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci come off the books after this year. A greater priority for Boston might be a top center, but there are no top centers on the market at the moment. Adam Henrique would be a nice add, but Henrique won’t move the needle the way Elias Lindholm might have. Hanifin looks as if he’ll go to market for sure — and all that dithering will likely pay off in a meaningful way. But getting Hanifin to Boston now, so he can get a taste of life as a Bruin, could meaningfully enhance their chances of retaining him after July.

The Flames could use a young center. Maybe Shane Pinto would be a fit. (Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images)

Ottawa Senators trade Shane Pinto to the Calgary Flames for the Vancouver Canucks’ first-round pick (acquired in the Elias Lindholm deal). 

Lindholm’s departure left a significant void at center for Calgary which theoretically could be filled internally if they decide to shift Connor Zary back to the middle, or his original position. But the reality is, the Flames could use a young center with upside and so then you turn to Ottawa, where the Senators have Tim Stützle, Josh Norris, Ridly Greig and Pinto, all of whom are natural centers. It’s forced Greig to the wing for now (he’s playing with Pinto), but the Senators could theoretically part with one or the other in a package.

Ottawa also needs some experience and probably there’d be no better fit than Calgary’s Blake Coleman, who is 32, a two-time Stanley Cup winner, signed for three more years at $4.9 million and amid the best season of his career. The only problem is Coleman has a 10-team no-trade clause and presumably Ottawa is on it. So, they’d need to talk to him about it and the reality is, Calgary might need Coleman as badly as Ottawa might, given how they’re pushing youngsters into the NHL lineup. The two GMs, Craig Conroy and Steve Staios, are former teammates and overlapped for parts of two seasons in Calgary toward the end of their respective careers, so they have an established relationship that should make it easier to negotiate. Presumably, Staios wants to take a longer look at his team before moving out a young piece, but the bones of a possible deal are in place, whether it’s at the deadline, or closer to the 2024 draft.

Senators trade Vladimir Tarasenko to the Edmonton Oilers for Raphael Lavoie.

There are many right wingers the Oilers could bid on to flesh out their top six — Tarasenko, Jake Guentzel from Pittsburgh, Jordan Eberle from Seattle, Pavel Buchnevich from St. Louis, Anthony Duclair from San Jose. In season, the Oilers have added veteran depth on the wing twice, first by bringing in Sam Gagner, then Corey Perry. Both will be useful depth players in what they hope is a long Stanley Cup run. But long term, neither is particularly suited to play top-six minutes, whereas Tarasenko can.

Remember, the Senators’ current general manager, Staios, worked in Edmonton’s front office, alongside Ken Holland, before leaving to join Ottawa. No one is more familiar with Edmonton’s prospect pool than Staios. And if Seattle falls out of the playoff race, Edmonton could also bid on Eberle and bring the former Oiler home. If the Oilers target Tarasenko or Eberle, that presupposes the Senators or Kraken believe there’s genuine value in Lavoie who, at 23, is an AHL All-Star but still a work in progress at the NHL level. On the plus side, 6-foot-4, 215-pound wingers sometimes take time to find their stride and if Lavoie ever finds his, that’s a quality both the Senators or the Kraken can use down the road.

Anaheim Ducks trade Adam Henrique to the Colorado Avalanche for a 2024 first-round pick. 

The Avalanche had an issue with forward depth in last year’s playoffs and the ongoing absence of Valeri Nichushkin, who is currently in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, further complicates the issue because Nichushkin was playing very well for them this year. Zach Parise, 39, signed as a free agent, is a nice bandage, the sort of depth player you might add at the deadline for a fifth-round pick. They got him for free. But Parise probably isn’t enough.

Colorado has done well, adding ex-Ducks such as Josh Manson and Andrew Cogliano in the past. Colorado needs an upgrade at center and after Lindholm and Monahan came off the board, Henrique remains the most attractive target. His versatility is his strength and he is also playing some of his best hockey of the season right now. Henrique probably has second-round value if a team could absorb his entire contract, but Anaheim would have to retain up to 50 percent of Henrique’s $5.8 million deal, which would bump the price up to a first-rounder, or what Winnipeg sacrificed to land Monahan.

(Top photo of Noah Hanifin and Brad Marchand: Rich Gagnon / Getty Images)

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