The Leafs need to be in on Dougie Hamilton if he’s available

I don’t know why Dougie Hamilton’s name has crept up again in trade talks, but if there’s anything to be learned from the last time it did, these situations can evolve into something quickly. [See also: P.K. Subban this past June.]

There seems to be plenty of debate among insiders and Flames fans alike about just how much substance there is to Calgary’s willingness to ship Hamilton out, but as an outsider looking at things from the perspective of another team, I don’t want to get too much into that. The name is out there for a reason. If Brad Treviling is fielding calls on this guy, Lou Lamoriello should be hopping on the phone as soon as possible. 

The idea of the Flames souring on Hamilton after one year is a bit absurd, but considering their relatively rough start and their blue-line being seen as a point of strength, it’s not all that surprising to see some “they need to shake things up” talk floating about. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how Hamilton could help Toronto if they were to pursue him, and what he might cost in a swap.

First off, Hamilton is a 23-year-old defender and still has essentially his entire prime left. To put it into perspective, he’s just 11 months older than Morgan Rielly, and already has two 40+ point seasons under his belt. Physically he’s just a monster, listed at 6’6 and 210 pounds (though I’m sure that weight number is dated). 

At a glance he’s no doubt an intriguing player. But there’s a lot more in his game to like.

Hamilton is one of those right-handed top pairing defenders that seem to be unicorns in today’s NHL. We hear so much about teams looking for them basically any time trade rumours start to kick into gear, and the Leafs are a team that arguably need one more than any other team in the league. 

Hamilton would slot in with either Rielly or Gardiner in the top four and solidify that group almost immediately. I suppose the only argument against playing him alongside Rielly is that neither have shown to be particularly strong in terms of shot-suppression, but running Zaitsev-Rielly and Gardiner-Hamilton would be fine anyway if you don’t want to have the most fun (and anxiety-inducing) Rielly-Hamilton pairing helping pepper the hell out of teams when it comes to attacking. It’s worth noting Hamilton was the second-highest-scoring Flames player in terms of powerplay production last season, at 4.77 points-per-sixty, behind only Sean Monahan. 

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Hamilton would almost surely improve the Leafs’ weak blueline drastically right now and through the next few years, but what would Treviling require in return for someone he gave up three draft picks for just a year ago? It’s really tough to get a handle on what the Flames are doing.

I would assume, looking at Calgary’s depth chart, that given they’re dealing from a position of strength on defence, and the fact they traded for a goalie this past summer, they want to bolster their forward group in some capacity. And considering they’ve given up the most goals against in the league and sit 23rd in terms of score-adjusted Corsi, the Flames are likely eyeing players who are strong on both sides of the puck. But who knows? Maybe they just want to hit reset in a sense and bring in some good futures while clearing out money. Hamilton carries a $5.75-million tag for this season and four more, which should be great value through his prime seasons, and something the Leafs could easily manage for a core piece. 

The best the Leafs can do for the Flames is probably offer up a strong prospect like Kasperi Kapanen and some picks, or entertain unloading a solid play-driving roster forward like Kadri. But again, given how the Flames look in terms of their roster make-up and where their expectations likely are with aspirations for contending now, it’s tough to speculate. 

When it comes to these potential trade targets that pop up here or there, the main thing to keep in mind from a Toronto perspective is that the organization has a good stable of prospects and a roster that’s on the rise, so they can get very creative if they want to go after a player like Hamilton, who in this case would surely help shore up their shakiest position.

  • BarelyComments

    Going full HFboards I would be interested in something looking like JVR and Nylander for Hamilton and Tkachuk as incredibly unlikely as that is… You could add a pick or two on either side depending on which you think is off balance.

    • LukeDaDrifter

      Supposedly the asking price for Trouba was the equivalent of a JVR, Brandon Carlo, and a first round draft pick. Boston wouldn’t go for it. Winnipeg wouldn’t take less. As badly as we need a defenceman would you trade JVR, Andrew Nielson, and a first rounder for Hamilton?

      • Brandon

        I wouldn’t, but I may overvalue letting a core grow together. Leaf defense isn’t great, but outside Polak and Hunwick, they’re young and seem to have some good potential. The Leafs are all so young that they need to be given time to grow together. Is it really surprising that they’re out of sync? Teams seem quick to shuffle the deck to solve problems, but sometimes there’s real value when a team is given the time it needs to develop synergy.

        • LukeDaDrifter

          It needs a close look as to why such a young guy could be on the market so soon after signing a big contract last year. I do think we could afford to lose an established NHL forward due to our prospect pool. It’s the other bits and pieces that would tip the scale one way or the other.

      • Getrdone

        No, I would not and as nice as a BIG scoring defender looks, 2 teams have soured on him in a very short time. Personally I do not want that kind of situation in this very young Leaf dressing room.

      • BarelyComments

        No I wouldn’t but you would only go for Hamilton assuming Calgary is in a different position… There’s been no word of a souring relationship so presumably they would be looking for a defence for offence swap..

  • Stan Smith

    Maybe I’m just overly suspicious but the Bruins gave up on Hamilton, and if it’s true, now the Flames are following suit after just one season? All I can say is what is wrong with this picture? This guy appears to have everything. Something just does not compute.

      • Stan Smith

        From what I understand it was over contract, which says that the Bruins didn’t think he was worth the money he was asking. To me that basically amounts to the same thing. As it was, he signed for $5.75 M a year with Calgary, which doesn’t seem like that outrageous a salary. With his size, his numbers, and his pedigree, you would think he would be the ideal top pairing guy, yet despite the fact he is the 2nd highest paid dman in Calgary, he is actually 5th in TOI. It just raises red flags, and makes me wonder why.

        • Adam Brook

          Boston had offered basically the same contract that Hamilton ended up signing in Calgary for. The problem was Hamilton didn’t want to be in Boston and thus made his asking price way over his perceived value in contract negotiations.

  • Brent Wisken

    Nice to have Hamilton, but I wouldn’t give up Kadri. I like how Kadri takes a lot of pressure off of Matthews. Perhaps Hamilton’s contract is a bit pricey. He is making more than Rielly.

  • ericsh

    It would have to be an even trade for Kadri maybe a draft pick back from Calgary or Kapanen & a couple of draft picks which we should be getting back again at the end of the year by trading some expiring contracts.

  • LukeDaDrifter

    Johnny Gaudreau is out with a long term injury. Just had surgery on a broken finger. Like Stan Smith I am suspicious of why Dougie Hamilton is rumored to be on the market. Were the Fames monitoring the asking price for Trouba and now reckon they can move a big overpaid contract plus acquire a pile of great assets at the same time. If he is truly a top four then the asking price is going to be large. The Flames had to give up a first-round selection (No. 15) and two second-round picks to get him.

  • Cpt. Chitterling

    Hamilton is the perfect piece to the Leafs young, rebuilding roster.
    I would personally be willing to move JVR+ for him, considering that Burke love his big scoring wingers and that we are loaded with prospects on the wings. I think that JVR, Andreas Johnson, and say one of Leivo/Valiev/Lindberg may be able to get the job done, depending on how badly Calgary wants to move him.

      • Cpt. Chitterling

        If the rumours are true and he is on the trade block, he naturally will be viewed in the “damaged goods” category. Hamilton’s trade value has to be equal to or lower than the first and two seconds price that Calgary paid for him. The Leafs currently have a stocked system with NHL-caliber prospects and will not have enough room for all of them in the future. It would be shrewd for Lou to jump on this opportunity even if he has to “overpay” with valuable prospects who will never have a chance to make our roster anyway.

  • Albertan Leaf Fan!

    Soo as a leafs fab who lives in flames nation, and rooted for the flames when they arnt playing the leafs. We should 100% be trading with the flames. Though not nesscarly for one of their stars. I dare say they have some of the best defence prospects out thier. They a have a lack of forwards do to a separate cap crunch and could definitely use some talent up front. Would ya look at that, we have a surplus of skilled forwards, a dirty of defence. The two team’s, wants, and surplus mass up Joey for a trade wich would better both teams up for success.