LAS VEGAS (AP) — Noah Hanifin, a trade deadline acquisition meant to bolster the Golden Knights’ blue line, signed an eight-year extension with Vegas on Thursday worth an average of $7.35 million annually.

Hanifin, 27, has two goals and seven assists in 16 games for the Knights. He was acquired from the Flames on March 6, and between the Calgary and Vegas has 44 points in 77 games, just four points off his career high two years ago.

Just an important, Hanifin has made the smooth transition by immediately being placed on the Knights’ first defensive pairing.

The play of all three pairings was a major reason the Knights won the Stanley Cup last year, but injuries, illness and inconsistent play has created more uncertainty this season. By signing Hanifin to an extension, it could be a signal the Knights might move on from one or two of their veteran defensemen after this season because of salary cap restraints.

As usual, the Knights were active before the trade deadline, also adding Tomas Hertl from the San Jose Sharks and Anthony Mantha from the Washington Capitals.

Vegas has four games remaining this season, all are at home. The Knights, who are on a three-game losing streak entering Friday’s game against the Minnesota Wild, would be the second wild card in the Western Conference at this point. They also are a point behind the Los Angeles Kings for the third spot in the Pacific Division.

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