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NHL Trade Deadline: Panthers Interested in Top Defenseman?

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Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin, pictured here in the third period of a game on Nov. 25 in Denver, is one of the top targets at the NHL Trade Deadline. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The NHL Trade Deadline is just over two weeks away and, according to Insider Elliotte Friedman, the Florida Panthers have interest in Calgary defenseman Noah Hanifin.

Hanifin, a pending free agent, is one of the top players on the market and there will be many suitors prior to the deadline on March 8.

The Panthers do not have a lot of draft stock to offer — Philadelphia has Florida’s first-round pick (Claude Giroux trade at 2022 deadline) this coming summer, Calgary has it in 2025 (Matthew Tkachuk, 2022) — but, as Friedman noted, have a number of young players who could be of interest to another team.

One who was mentioned: Anton Lundell, who was Florida’s top pick in 2020 and is center of the team’s third line.

“I think Toronto and Tampa are kind of in the same boat where they don’t have a lot of assets they can, or want, to move,” Friedman said on his 32 Thoughts podcast with Jeff Marek on Monday.

“I think Boston and Florida are a little bit different because if they wanted to, they don’t have a ton of picks, but they have young players. Lundell has been thrown into some things this year. I don’t know if Florida wants to do that — but if they did, they could.”

Lundell alone will not get Hanifin to Sunrise, not with as many teams in the running for the 27-year-old left-handed shot.

And, as Friedman alluded to, the Panthers do not want to part with Lundell, a player whom they feel is a big part of their team now and in the future.

Lundell, 22, is Florida’s third-line center and a player it does not have a replacement for.

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How real is the Panthers’ interest in Hanifin?

Oh, it is probably legit.

Hanifin is a top defenseman in the NHL and a player any team — including a Florida team rightfully satisfied with its defensive play — would want.

The cost at the trade deadline will be extremely high and the Panthers may not be flush enough to play at that table.

The Panthers are also very happy with the team they have.

General manager Bill Zito is big on team chemistry and the Panthers are riding high in that regard.

There is a thought Florida is not going to do anything major now and not upset things.

Florida is a legit Stanley Cup contender as is.

Zito knows this.

If the Panthers do anything at this deadline — and with cap space available, they will — it probably will not be in the blockbuster category.

Landing Hanifin would be in the blockbuster department.

Moving forward, the Panthers could have a shot at landing Hanifin as a free agent as Friedman reports that Hanifin will not be signing with the Flames and will become a free agent after this season.

The Panthers have a number of free agents of their own they are trying to sign — Lundell is a restricted free agent and needs a contract of his own — including Sam Reinhart, Gus Forsling, Brandon Montour, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Ryan Lomberg and Dmitry Kulikov.

The Panthers could be very busy in the offseason, and will make moves if they think it upgrades their chances at the deadline.

But Hanifin?

The cost may just be too steep.

ON DECK

OTTAWA SENATORS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL App
  • Last Season: Florida won 2-1
  • This Season (Panthers Lead 1-0) — At Ottawa: Panthers 5, Senators 0 (Nov.27); April 4. At Florida: Tuesday; April 9
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Ottawa leads 57-45-5, 3 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Thursday at Carolina, 7 p.m.

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