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Countdown to TradeCentre: Hanifin controls destiny, Markstrom not asked to waive NTC


The NHL's March 8 Trade Deadline is approaching, and teams are making decisions on whether to buy or sell, and on which players can make the biggest difference and hold the greatest value. Check out today's trade rumours and speculation from around the NHL beat.

Hanifin's Choice

The Calgary Flames continue to headline coverage ahead of the trade deadline with Chris Tanev, Noah Hanifin and Jacob Markstrom all drawing significant interest ahead of March 8.

TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reports that Hanifin, a pending unrestricted free agent, appears to control his own destiny, with the Flames open to an extension but willing to deal the defenceman if that door is closed.

"Noah Hanifin is arguably playing the best hockey of his career right now and the Flames are doing well in part because of that," Dreger said on Insider Trading. "He's the only guy that can make this decision and the decision is, 'Do I stay in Calgary, sign a contract extension or do I tell the Calgary Flames I'm not extending' and they then accept (moving forward with) a trade. There's tons of interest - he has to make the call if he's extending or not."

The 27-year-old defenceman carries a $4.95 million cap hit on his expiring deal and nearly signed an eight-year extension with the Flames in the fall before electing to hold off.

Hanifin has nine goals and 29 points in 53 games this season, his sixth since joining the team in a 2018 blockbuster trade with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Markstrom not asked to waive NTC

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun confirmed Tuesday that the New Jersey Devils engaged with the Flames on trade talks surrounding Markstrom, but clarified the goaltender was never asked to waive his no-trade clause. 

"What was not presented to Jacob Markstrom was this question, 'Would you waive to go to New Jersey?' And so that tells you a couple things," LeBrun explained on Insider Trading. "One, that those trade conversations didn't escalate to the point where it got to that juncture. It also asks a couple of other questions, which is why didn't it? And one of things we found out on this day was that there seems to be a discrepancy between the two teams about how much money either team should be paying Jacob Markstrom, which is to say that the Devils would want Calgary to retain some of the salary left on Markstrom's contract in any trade.

"He's got two and half years left on his deal at $6 million a year, so you can see why the Flames aren't too interested in that or at least if they were going to contemplate that, can the two teams agree and what kind of price that would cost. So, who knows if this thing is dead or not between the two teams, but certainly the Devils still need to upgrade their goaltending position."

The 34-year-old netminder has a 17-14-2 record this season with a .916 save percentage and a 2.50 goals-against average. He has rebounded significantly this season, after posting a .892 save percentage last year. 

The Flames sit three points of back of both the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues for a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. St. Louis has one game in hand on Calgary, while Los Angeles has three. 

The Devils are just two points back of the Detroit Red Wings for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference as they lean on goaltenders Vitek Vanecek and Nico Daws. Vanecek, 28, has a 17-9-3 record this season with a .890 save percentage and a 3.18 GAA. Daws has posted two straight wins to improve his record to 5-5 with a .906 save percentage and a 3.02 GAA. New Jersey is currently carrying three goaltenders on their roster after recalling Akira Schmid, who has a 5-7-1 NHL record this season, from the AHL on Monday.

No price set on Guentzel 

The Pittsburgh Penguins have a decision to make on whether to keep pending unrestricted free agent Jake Guentzel for their playoff push, or deal the winger for assets.

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reports the Penguins continue to receive calls on Guentzel, but have not yet set their price tag on the 29-year-old.

"The Penguins continue to take calls on him, but the Penguins, from what I can ascertain here, have not told teams what the price would be to get Jake Guentzel and that's because the Penguins are not at that point yet," LeBrun explained. "All they're doing right now is taking calls and teams are trying to show Kyle Dubas, the Penguins GM, that if he ever gets to that point, where he would trade him, that they want in on that conversation."

Signed at a cap hit of $6 million on his expiring deal, Guentzel has 22 goals and 51 points in 49 games this season. A two-time 40-goal scorer, he posted 36 goals and 73 points in 78 games last season.

Selected in the third round of the 2013 draft, the Omaha, NE. native has spent his career with the Penguins, making his debut in 2016-17. 

The Penguins enter play Wednesday sitting seven points back of the Red Wings for the final wild-card spot with three games in hand.