Should Bruins pursue Chris Tanev or Noah Hanifin before trade deadline?

Should Bruins pursue Chris Tanev or Noah Hanifin before trade deadline? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Are the Calgary Flames open for business ahead of the March 8 NHL trade deadline? And if yes, should the Boston Bruins pick up the phone and ask about some of their veteran defensemen?

We hadn't seen a major deal ahead of the trade deadline until Wednesday night when the Flames dealt top-six center Elias Lindholm to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for forward Andrei Kuzmenko, two prospects and two 2024 draft picks (including a first-rounder).

The Flames are five points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but with Lindholm now gone, it's fair to wonder whether Calgary will trade away more veterans with expiring contracts.

Two such players who could have interest to the Bruins are Flames defensemen Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin. Both players are able to become unrestricted free agents in July. If the Flames aren't able to extend either one, it makes sense to trade them and avoid a scenario where they leave for nothing in the summer.

The Bruins' No. 1 need at the trade deadline is depth on the blue line; more specifically, a physical d-man who can play a lot of minutes, kill penalties, block shots, clear traffic from the front of the net and play hard defensive minutes in the playoffs. The Bruins could really use another defenseman in this mold, especially with Derek Forbort missing so many games with a nagging injury this season.

Let's start with Tanev, because he fits the description above.

Tanev ranks fifth in the league with 135 blocked shots. He isn't afraid of putting his body on the line to stop pucks from getting to the net. Tanev is a strong penalty killer, too, and averages a team-leading 2:39 of shorthanded ice time per game. He's a major reason why the Flames have the third-best penalty kill percentage. Acquiring Tanev would help the Bruins lessen the workload on Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm, both of whom have played a ton of minutes this season.

Tanev's highlight packages, including the one below, are full of blocked shots and impressive defensive plays.

Another reason to pursue Tanev is he could be a top target for some of the Bruins' main competitors in the Eastern Conference. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman said Thursday on the Jeff Marek Show that the Toronto Maple Leafs are among the teams with interest in Tanev. Leafs general manager Brad Treliving used to have the same job with the Flames, so he knows Calgary's roster pretty well.

What would be the cost to acquire Tanev?

The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun wrote Thursday that Calgary's "general price tag" for Tanev is "a second-round pick plus another asset, according to league sources. If a team would be willing to jump up to a first-round pick, they’d probably get Tanev now."

The Bruins don't have a second-round pick until 2026. They don't own a 2024 first-rounder. Tanev is 34 years old, so he'd probably be a rental. If that's the case, giving up a 2025 first-rounder for Tanev would be way too much. Maybe the Bruins and Flames could find a different type of deal, but this is one example of Boston's lack of draft capital potentially being a problem.

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Hanifin is a better fit long term. He's 27 years old. He's from Massachusetts (Norwood) and went to Boston College. He's a legit top-four defenseman with a very good two-way skill set. He has tallied 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in 49 games, while playing a career-high 23:29 of ice time per game.

Hanifin's talent and age would make him worth giving up a 2025 first-round pick (plus other assets) to acquire, assuming he would sign an extension to remain in Boston beyond this season. The Bruins gave up a lot to get Hampus Lindholm from the Anaheim Ducks before the 2022 trade deadline and signed him to an eight-year extension a few days later.

"Hanifin's gotta make a decision," Friedman said Thursday on the Jeff Marek Show. "I do believe that Calgary would like to keep him. It depends. There's two things here. No. 1 is what does Hanifin want? And No. 2, what becomes available for him? I do think Calgary has made it very clear they'd like to keep him, both in words and what they've offered. I think Hanifin has to make a decision.

"I think the other thing that does, knowing the Flames have made him a very generous offer, is what does that do to other teams out there that like him? Because I think there are some. I think the Hanifin situation is as much in his hands as it is in others."

The Bruins could also use a middle-six forward. However, they are the highest-scoring team in the NHL both overall and at even strength since the holiday break ended on Dec. 27. They also have a few prospects -- most notably Fabian Lysell and Georgii Merkulov -- who could come up from the AHL's Providence Bruins and provide some extra scoring depth. The caliber of defenseman prospects in Providence is not as impressive. Mason Lohrei has plenty of offensive skill, but he's not ready to play physical playoff minutes.

These are some reasons why acquiring a veteran defenseman who will bring more truculence to Boston's lineup should be a top priority for general manager Don Sweeney. You can never have too much depth on the blue line, and one more good piece there would make the Bruins much better equipped to win multiple rounds in the postseason.