Looking at Noah Hanifin's profile

Noah Hanifin was an excellent defenseman added by the Vegas Golden Knights at this year's trade deadline. What's his outlook for next season?
Vegas Golden Knights v Dallas Stars - Game Seven
Vegas Golden Knights v Dallas Stars - Game Seven / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Often, trade deadline acquisitions come and immediately impact their respective teams. They're meant to fill a void, pushing their team to the next level. When the Vegas Golden Knights acquired Noah Hanifin at the trade deadline, the objective was to rule the Stanley Cup playoffs and repeat as champions.

Although they fell short of that objective, Hanifin's play was impressive enough to warrant a contract extension. He got an eight-year deal with an annual value of $7,350,000, making him a staying force in the Golden Knight's future plans. With that, he'll stick around with his buddy, Jack Eichel, for at least two more seasons.

But there is more to Hanifin's game than simply being a good player for Vegas. This season, he had 34 assists in a joint venture with the Golden Knights and Calgary Flames. That included eight assists on the power play with both clubs. He's an offensive piece that excels on special teams.

That brings us to the impact he'll have on the franchise in the coming years. How will he benefit the special teams units for Vegas? What can he improve to help the franchise win another championship? It's time to look at Noah Hanifin's profile and see where he stands with the organization.

What makes Noah Hanifin special

Noah Hanifin was brought in to bolster the Vegas Golden Knights offensively. They were lacking bite and had dealt with numerous injuries throughout the season. That included Jack Eichel and William Karlsson. The former Flames defenseman was sent to be a solution, pushing the puck easily and making the transition game more fluent.

That included the power play, where he scored both of his Golden Knights goals. He's proven a great distributor with a keen sense for moving the puck. That's especially true in the Stanley Cup playoffs, where he had three power play assists in seven games. The Boston native has astounding overall value on special teams, where he also excels on the penalty kill.

It's easy to see why Vegas gave him a hefty eight-year contract extension. His adaptability and skating make him an ideal fit on the team. Such abilities make him perfect in transition, where he can move flawlessly up and down the ice. With Alec Martinez likely on the way out, Kelly McCrimmon made a sensible replacement by getting another power play asset on defense.

Where he can improve

Physicality hasn't been Noah Hanifin's strongest suit. He only made 63 hits this season, which is rather low for his position. Granted, the defenseman was brought in because he could move smoothly and distribute the puck well. But hitting more players will bring more value to his new deal, helping the Vegas Golden Knights as well.

It's not to say that he should be the next Jeremy Lauzon, who led the NHL in hits per game (4.89) and total hits (386). It's simply preventing players from getting to the puck and physically wearing them down. Hanifin doesn't have to sacrifice his puck-moving acumen to hit people more.

The good news is he's becoming a bulkier player as he progresses through his NHL career. Currently, he weighs 207 lbs. and should benefit more from Bruce Cassidy's system. With that added bulk, he can become an imposing figure on the blue line if he inserts himself more without the puck.

The verdict

The Vegas Golden Knights have committed themselves to seeking great players during the regular season and the Stanley Cup playoffs. Stars like Jack Eichel and Mark Stone were brought on to provide timely scoring in key moments. That's what led the Golden Knights to their first Stanley Cup last season, along with their scoring depth.

Noah Hanifin is no different, for he's already fitting in with the team. He's adapted to the system and has improved the team's power play with his puck movement and skating. Such assets should help the team become Stanley Cup contenders again.

If the Boston native can improve his physicality and play away from the puck, he'll help Vegas even more and become a stable long-term piece. The team is going all-in on their championship window, with the Hanifin trade signaling this. Every improvement goes a long way in ensuring that the window stays open.