Where there’s smoke, there’s fire — that’s the saying.
Smoke when it comes to legitimate NHL rumours usually comes from a select few sources, media types who have cultivated relationships over the years and who nowadays work for a major sports property or the league itself.
So when someone like, say, Elliotte Friedman drops a team or player name during a broadcast segment, podcast or blog, there are probably some legs to it.
Friedman did just that on Saturday during Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final in an intermission segment on Hockey Night in Canada, mentioning Calgary Flames defenceman Noah Hanifin.
Elliotte Friedman with an update on the Flames and Noah Hanifin during the intermission tonight. pic.twitter.com/LKtCm15EIh
— Robert Munnich (@RingOfFireCGY) June 11, 2023
“I think one of the names you’re going to start to hear a little bit here is Noah Hanifin from Calgary,” Friedman told fellow Sportsnetter David Amber. “He’s got one more year, like a lot of the Calgary players do, and I think teams have begun to ask the Flames, ‘what exactly are you thinking about here? What’s the future?’
”A lot of us are talking about Winnipeg right now, and for good reason, but low-key, I think Calgary could be just as interesting a team as Winnipeg over the next few weeks, depending on how all these players feel about their futures.”
Not much insight, a nothingburger really, into what’s going on with Hanifin given Friedman’s words. But a name was named.
Now, we’ve written recently — more than once — about the situation facing the Flames when it comes to players whose contracts are up in a year’s time. Chances are some of them won’t be back for at least a couple of reasons: 1) the player tells new Flames GM Craig Conroy he doesn’t intend to sign an extension or 2) the team can’t afford to sign absolutely everyone slash they want to move on from a player and get something back for him.
There’s good reason to keep bringing up the fact that fully a third of the current roster could in theory pull a Johnny Gaudreau and walk away for nothing July 1, 2024. Conroy’s got a lot of work to do on that front. The Flames players who are slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer are mostly significant:
- The aforementioned Hanifin
- Elias Lindholm
- Tyler Toffoli
- Mikael Backlund
- Chris Tanev
- Nikita Zadorov
- Oliver Kylington
- Dennis Gilbert
So why did Friedman mention Hanifin and not someone else’s? One might think the defenceman is more likely to be in play given his name was thrown out there.
We’ll see. There’s still [checks calendar] 384 days until NHL Free Agency ‘24™ begins.