Noah Hanifin VGK

EDMONTON -- Things could not have worked out much better for Noah Hanifin considering all the uncertainly heading into this season.

The Vegas Golden Knights defenseman signed an eight-year, $58.8 million contract ($7.35 million average annual value) Thursday, after being acquired from the Calgary Flames in a three-team trade March 6. Hanifin will play his 18th game with the Golden Knights when they host the Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET; MAX, truTV, TNT).

“I’m really happy with the way things have unfolded and I was super appreciative of my six years in Calgary -- it’s an amazing city, an amazing place to play hockey,” Hanifin told “But for me, it’s a good new chapter being in Vegas now.”

Selected by the Carolina Hurricanes No. 5 in the 2015 NHL Draft, Hanifin, 27, is in his ninth NHL season. He played three seasons with the Hurricanes before acquired by the Flames on June 23, 2018, along with forward Elias Lindholm, for defenseman Dougie Hamilton, forward Michael Ferland and defenseman Adam Fox, who has since gone on to win the Norris Trophy with the New York Rangers.

Hanifin was going into the final of a six-year, $29.7 million contract ($4.95 million AAV) this season and knew he was likely going to be on the move prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on March 8.

“I think at the end of the day, any time you’re going through a contract year there are going to be some distractions and decision making,” Hanifin said. “But for me, it was a important year to go out and perform and have a good season and take care of what I can control, and that’s my play, and whatever happens around the Deadline was going to happen.”

Despite the uncertainty regarding his future, Hanifin managed to have a strong final season in Calgary and had 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) in 61 games before he was traded. He has 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in 17 games with the Golden Knights, including two assists when they clinched a playoff berth with a 7-2 win against the Minnesota Wild on Friday.

Noah Hanifin signs 8-year extension with Vegas

“There are things that go through your mind when you know that a trade is coming, but the guys I played with in Calgary for a long time were awesome teammates and everybody made it easier than it could have been,” Hanifin said. “For me, it was just trying to go out there and perform and work hard and I think that’s the thing -- if you want to get respect, you have to go and work hard, and I tried doing that this year.

“When the trade happened I kind of expected that to happen, but I was also exciting to come to the defending Stanley Cup Champion team.”

A Boston native, Hanifin has fit in well with Vegas and is playing on its top defense pair alongside Nicolas Hague. The Golden Knights hold the second wild card from the Western Conference but trail the Los Angeles Kings by one point for third place in the Pacific Division. Each team has three games remaining.

“What he’s done is allowed us to defend the blue line better,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “To me, he holds his gaps as good as anybody in the National Hockey League. He’s just got great feet, great angles, so he’s able to kill plays before they get started. That’s what he’s done best for us.

“He’s always going to be a good matchup guy regardless of who we play him with. He’s fit in great, to be honest. He does a lot of things well for us.”

Along with Hanifin, Vegas also acquired forwards Tomas Hertl from the San Jose Sharks and Anthony Mantha from the Washington Capitals prior to the Trade Deadline. Forward Mark Stone, the Golden Knights captain, resumed practicing Friday in a noncontact jersey after sustaining a lacerated spleen during a 5-3 loss to the Nashville Predators on Feb. 20.

With a healthy lineup and the new additions, the Golden Knights are hoping to again play well into the spring.

“It’s definitely exciting; this is a team that has gone through some long battles last year and have been dealing with some injuries this year, but I think everybody is starting to come in a good time for playoffs and that’s when you want everybody to be healthy and get ready for the battle ahead,” Hanifin said. “The expectations in here are to win. It’s a great culture, and that’s something that since I’ve been here that I’ve noticed for sure, is the standard and the desire and expectation to win.”