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Knights sign defenseman to 8-year contract extension

Updated April 11, 2024 - 4:51 pm

Noah Hanifin was the biggest surprise of the Golden Knights’ flurry of trade-deadline activity.

The Knights weren’t expected to be in the market for a defenseman, let alone the top one available. But the team’s always opportunistic general manager Kelly McCrimmon pounced at the chance to add another premier player to the organization.

Hanifin is now staying around a little longer. The Knights signed him to an eight-year contract extension with an average annual value of $7.35 million, the team announced Thursday.

The deal gives Hanifin the fourth-highest cap hit on the club next season behind center Jack Eichel ($10 million), captain Mark Stone ($9.5 million) and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo ($8.8 million).

He’s worth the price tag based on his play so far.

Hanifin, 27, was acquired by the Knights on March 6 in a deal with the Calgary Flames. Calgary received a 2026 first-round pick, a conditional 2024 third-round pick and defenseman Daniil Miromanov.

Hanifin was thrust into a top role on the Knights’ blue line after the trade. He has two goals and seven assists his first 16 games with the team. Hanifin is also plus-7 at five-on-five in that span, which ranks first on the Knights.

What makes Hanifin unique is his ability to produce at both ends of the ice. He’s also been effective no matter who the Knights have paired him with.

The deal sets up an interesting offseason for the team.

The Knights have approximately $7.59 million in salary-cap space for next year with eight forwards, seven defensemen and two active goaltenders under contract, assuming goaltender Robin Lehner remains on long-term injured reserve.

That doesn’t leave much room to bring back some of the Knights’ several free agents. The most notable one is right wing Jonathan Marchessault, the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner for playoff MVP. Marchessault has scored 41 goals so far in his contract year.

The team’s other unrestricted free agents are center Chandler Stephenson, left wing William Carrier, right wings Michael Amadio and Anthony Mantha and defenseman Alec Martinez. Left wing Pavel Dorofeyev and defenseman Kaedan Korczak are restricted free agents.

Hanifin’s extension seems to signal Martinez, 36, may not return. Stephenson could be on the way out as well after the Knights acquired center Tomas Hertl from the San Jose Sharks before the trade deadline.

The Knights still have time before making any final decisions. They at least know they have a stud defenseman in the fold for a while.

Contact Danny Webster at dwebster@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DannyWebster21 on X.

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