Boston Bruins

This Bruins rival has interest in Noah Hanifin trade, per report

The Lightning, like many other contenders, need to upgrade their blue line.

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The top two centers on the trade market have already been dealt ahead of the March 8 NHL trade deadline. The Vancouver Canucks acquired Elias Lindholm from the Calgary Flames in January, and the Winnipeg Jets traded for Sean Monahan of the Montreal Canadiens earlier this month.

Could we see a run on defensemen next?

Depth on the blue line is something every contending team is looking to acquire at this time of the season. In baseball, you never have enough starting pitching. The same is true for defensemen in pro hockey. It's a hard position to play from a physical standpoint, and injuries often become a factor the deeper you advance in the playoffs. A lack of depth and high-end talent on the blue line has sunk many contenders in previous postseasons.

The best defenseman rumored to be available is Noah Hanifin of the Calgary Flames. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. If the Flames aren't able to re-sign him over the next couple weeks, it makes the most sense to trade him and not risk losing a very good player for nothing in free agency.

The Boston Bruins make a lot of sense as a potential Hanifin landing spot. The B's need a left-shot defenseman who can play in all situations. Hanifin checks that box. The Massachusetts native and former Boston College star also is still in the prime of his career at 27 years old. He would be a significant upgrade to any contender.

The worst-case scenario for the Bruins would be Hanifin going to one of their division rivals or potential playoff opponents like the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers or Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Lightning are one team with interest in Hanifin, per TSN's Chris Johnston.

"The Flames have made a concerted effort to sign the pending unrestricted free-agent defenceman. And they may still have another push to try to get that done," Johnston said Tuesday night during TSN's Insider Trading segment.

"But with a little bit more than two weeks to go before the deadline, it's seeming increasingly likely that the 27-year-old defenceman will be moved elsewhere. He's got some say in the matter. He's got eight teams on a no-trade clause - a limited no-trade clause. I'm told that they're not all Canadian teams and that there's maybe an open destination there. But the feeling is he's going to end up south of the border because it is believed to be his preference to sign his next contract somewhere in the U.S.

"As we look for destinations where he might land, there's a number of teams with interest but keep your eye on the Tampa Bay Lightning. They're always the stealth operators at the deadline and they're believed to be looking at him with Mikhail Sergachev out injured."

Noah Hanifin
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Noah Hanifin is one of the top players who could be dealt before the trade deadline.

The Lightning aren't the juggernaut of a few years ago when they went to the Stanley Cup Final three consecutive seasons and won back-to-back titles.

But this is still a very talented group with loads of experience and motivated by last season's first-round exit. The Sergachev injury in January was a major setback, but getting Hanifin would be a great way to fill that void.

There are many different scenarios in which the Bruins and Lightning could meet in the playoffs, either in the first or second round. Right now, the Bruins are a slightly better team than the Lightning. The B's aren't as potent offensively as the Lightning, but they are better defensively. The conversation would change if Hanifin went to the Lightning. If that scenario happens, you'd have to like Tampa Bay's chances of defeating Boston in a seven-game series.

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