Saturday’s five-player blockbuster, which saw Hanifin headed to the Calgary Flames along with teammate Elias Lindholm in exchange for defenceman Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and prospect Adam Fox, broke up what had been a quiet NHL Draft weekend in terms of trades considering the number of rumblings we’d heard leading up to the event.
“I kind of had a feeling that something could possibly happen throughout the draft and the course of that week,” Hanifin said during an appearance on Boomer & Warrener in the Morning on Sportsnet 960 The FAN. “And then I found out I was going to be going to Calgary. Obviously it’s a huge hockey city and a hockey market and I was so excited when I found out.”
The trade sets in motion plenty of changes for the young defenceman: new city, new sweater, and as a pending restricted free agent, a soon-to-be-signed new contract, too. But not everything will be new for Hanifin — particularly when it comes to the man behind the bench. Bill Peters opted out of his contract with the Hurricanes back in late April and was hired to be the Flames’ head coach just a few days later.
“He’s very demanding, but in a good way,” Hanifin said of Peter, the only NHL head coach he’s ever played for. “He just wants to bring the best out in everyone. I’m happy to be able to play for him again. I’m looking forward to it.
“He’s very easy to talk to when you want to approach him and talk and ask questions,” Hanifin continued. “He’s always there to sit down, discuss what he’s thinking and what he expects. But at the same time he does demand a lot out of his players and expects them to be successful, which I think is perfect, that’s good to see in a coach.”
In addition to Lindholm and Coach Peters, Hanifin will also be reunited with some other familiar faces including former U.S. National Team Development Program teammate Matthew Tkachuk and fellow Boston College alumnus Johnny Gaudreau, who he missed suiting up with by a year.
“Obviously I have super close friends on Carolina that I’m going to miss but the opportunity in Calgary is amazing,” Hanifin said. “It’s such a big hockey town, a hockey market, and I think there’s a great team in place and a lot of great pieces to be successful there. I’m happy to come in and try to do my best and be a part of that and create a winning culture in Calgary.”
Hanifin will certainly be under a brighter spotlight with the Flames. The 21-year-old is still developing his game in the pros and is coming off his most productive season with 10 goals and 32 point through 79 games with the struggling Hurricanes.
“I think it definitely adds fuel to the fire and motivates me quite a bit,” he said of being traded so early on in his career. “Obviously you don’t want to ever get traded when you’re young like that but I think there was a bunch of things going on in that scenario of why it happened. But at the end of the day, it just motivates me to keep working harder and prove that Calgary made a good decision.”