Golden Knights lock up defenseman Noah Hanifin with 8-year extension

Noah Hanifin and the Vegas Golden Knights have agreed to an eight-year contract extension worth $7.35 million annually, the team announced Thursday.

Re-signing Hanifin, who was set to become a pending unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, to a long-term deal comes a little more than a month after the defending Stanley Cup champion Golden Knights acquired the 27-year-old defenseman in a three-team trade with the Calgary Flames and the Philadelphia Flyers just days before the NHL trade deadline.

Getting a new deal done for Hanifin means the Golden Knights now have nine players on their roster who have more than two more years remaining on their current deals. It’s a group that includes center Jack Eichel, captain and left winger Mark Stone and forward William Karlsson, among others.

Hanifin’s time with the Golden Knights has led to him scoring two goals and nine points in 16 games while averaging more than 23 minutes per contest.

What he’s done with his new team has also added to a season that could be the strongest of his nine-year career. Hanifin has scored a career-high 13 goals while his 44 points are four shy of tying the personal best he set back in the 2021-22 campaign.

Attempting to become the fourth team since 1990 to repeat as Stanley Cup champions was part of the motivation for why the Golden Knights got Hanifin. It also came with the potential they could sign him to a long-term contract and take what would have been one of the most sought-after players in free agency off the market.

Hanifin’s arrival was one of three significant trades the Golden Knights executed just days before the NHL trade deadline. It began by getting forward Anthony Mantha from the Washington Capitals and ended with them stunning the hockey landscape by pulling off a deal to get forward Tomas Hertl, who has six years left on his contract after this season, from the San Jose Sharks.

Mantha, a pending UFA, also has nine points in 16 games while Hertl, who was recovering from left knee surgery, has a point in two games having just made his debut with the Golden Knights on Monday.

Another reason why the Golden Knights traded for Hanifin was the promise that came with playing him next to Alex Pietrangelo. Having a Hanifin-Pietrangelo partnership gave the Golden Knights a top pairing that could not only create scoring chances and maintain possession in the offensive zone, but they could also forge a partnership that could be just as impactful when in the defensive zone.

Hanifin and Pietrangelo had logged nearly 77 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time while allowing five goals in seven games before Pietrangelo came down with an illness that has kept him out of the lineup since April 2.

Entering Thursday, the Golden Knights were in the final Western Conference wild-card spot. They held a three-point lead over the St. Louis Blues while having played one fewer game.

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