It's an interesting time to be Arizona Coyotes general manager Don Maloney. It's the day of the 2015 NHL Draft and Maloney is in possession of the #3 pick, poised to possibly select a potential franchise defenseman in Boston College's Noah Hanifin. But he's also got a dilemma to solve - the Coyotes are $18.6 million shy of the NHL's 2015-16 salary floor.
This situation is in stark contrast to what the Boston Bruins (and several other teams) are dealing with - squeezed tightly against the salary cap and in desperate need to add pieces to a roster that stumbled short of a playoff appearance in 2015.
With that as the backdrop, rumors are flying that several teams have inquired about Arizona's #3 draft pick, including Boston, the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Winnipeg Jets. These teams likely see the potential to dish off an asset that might help their own and Arizona's salary situation while giving themselves the possibility to select Hanifin or one of the other hot prospects who could go at #3.
In the case of the Bruins, that asset is defenseman Dougie Hamilton, an RFA this summer who is looking for a huge payday. Hamilton is very much on track to be a franchise defenseman, and as a Bruins fan, I'd be pretty distraught to see the Bruins move him, rather than move other pieces to make things work around him. But as it stands right now, Hamilton is looking like a top asset the Bruins might be willing to move to give themselves cap flexibility and pieces to reload with.
A straight up swap of Hamilton for the #3 pick seems like it would be a bit of an odd move but it's been bandied about on Twitter as a possibility. Another possibility thrown about yesterday was the B's possibly moving Milan Lucic as part of a deal with Arizona that involves the #3 draft pick.
You can see why Hanifin would make sense for the Bruins, a team desperately in need of defensemen, particulary as Zdeno Chara ages. However, losing Hamilton and replacing him with Hanifin wouldn't make the Bruins any better in the short term, so you'd have to think the deal would be bigger than that.
From a BC perspective, while this seems a little counterintuitive, I think it might be worse for BC and their hopes of bringing Hanifin back next year if he were to go to a team like Boston with visions of making a deep playoff run right away. The Bruins defense was a disaster last year and would be even worse if they moved Dougie Hamilton, so there's almost no doubt they would give Hanifin a chance to crack the starting lineup in the fall, knowing Major Junior would be there as a security blanket if Hanifin didn't prove to be ready.
I still think the best case scenario for BC fans might be Hanifin going to Arizona; they've already got some good young and mobile defensemen, and given all the uncertainty surrounding the franchise right now, they may be perfectly content to wait patiently for Hanifin to develop for another year in college.
We'll keep you updated with the day's developments as they happen. Where do you want to see Hanifin end up?