So apparently, Dougie Hamilton’s name is popping up in trade rumours. It’s not that the Flames are necessarily shopping him – it’s that other teams are asking about him.
And why wouldn’t they be? The Flames are a sinking ship, their season on the verge of being over in all ways but mathematically, and we’re only halfway through November. That’s when the sharks come out, looking for an easy bite.
After all, something needs to be done with the Flames. A trade is one of the quickest possible fixes there is.
But those teams aren’t looking to help the Flames, they’re looking to help themselves. The fact that Hamilton is apparently being sought after is enough to tell you that Calgary should keep him.
According to Hockey-Reference, Hamilton, with 132 career points, is 105 on the list of highest-scoring active defencemen. Keep in mind, Hockey-Reference does appear to be a little out of date with its definition of “active”, but there are still a couple of things to keep in mind regarding this:
- This is out of a list of 479 players. Hamilton is almost in the top 100.
- Every single player above Hamilton has played more games than him.
- Every single player above Hamilton has played more seasons than him.
- Every single player above Hamilton is older than him.
The next highest-scoring defenceman younger than Hamilton on the list is Morgan Rielly, who has a point per game ratio of .406. Hamilton is at .478.
All of this is to say: don’t forget how special Hamilton is, even as his career has not gotten off to the ideal start in Calgary. Very, very few defencemen are capable of playing at the level he is. That, and he still has a ton of years ahead of him – and for a rebuilding team, that fact alone is crucial.
Yeah, he only has six points this season – he’s also the Flames’ highest-scoring defenceman. It would be one thing if Mark Giordano was leading everyone in scoring and Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan were the most dynamic duo in the NHL and Hamilton was the only one struggling, but fact is, almost everyone on this team is having a hard go of it. That’s not on any one player.
I know there is some cause for detraction because these are points, and Hamilton is a defenceman. To which I point out: this season, Hamilton is one of just three Flames defencemen with a positive CF% rel (+1.77). Dennis Wideman and Brett Kulak are ahead of him; they’re also numbers two and three in terms of favourable OZS% on the Flames. Hamilton is fifth (27.62, one of three players under 30.00). Hamilton drives play north, which is one of the best things anyone can do to defend, and he’s doing it better than most of the other defencemen on this team.
But all of this is very Hamilton-specific.
A big trade is not going to save this season
Presently, the Flames are last in the NHL. That’s by points percentage: sitting at .344, they are 30th in the league. Everybody is better than they are at the moment. Everybody.
If you aren’t in a playoff spot by the end of October, or at least a couple of points outside of one, it can be difficult to make the postseason. The Flames aren’t even close right now. So this is where management has to ask itself: is this season really worth saving?
If the answer to that question is yes, then a follow up question persists: how far are we willing to go to try to save this season?
The answer to that cannot involve trading a member of the young core. This season is not worth the potential repercussions of losing a player who should be able to help the Flames for years to come. It’s not worth a Hamilton; it’s not worth a Monahan; it’s not worth a Giordano, and he’s on the wrong side of 30.
For better or worse, this is the team the Flames have to play with. Selling low on anybody – which is just about all of the players at this point – won’t help them enough to make a meaningful difference in the immediate future, and is more likely to hurt them in the long-term.
What kind of trade could be expected?
If anything happens, it’s almost certainly going to be minor. Here’s a list of non-deadline mid-season trades the Flames have made in Brad Treliving’s tenure:
- Future considerations for Kevin Poulin (so basically a free minor league goalie)
- A conditional seventh round pick for Freddie Hamilton (conditions not met, so basically a free Hamilton)
- Corban Knight for Drew Shore (or, by today’s standards, an AHLer for someone playing in Europe)
This is a man who waits for the trade deadline or the draft to make a splash.
Even then, mid-season Flames trades before Treliving haven’t been too much to write home about:
- Greg Nemisz for Kevin Westgarth (because GRIT) (in fairness Westgarth played way more NHL games)
- A sixth round pick for Lane MacDermid (GRIT) (and then MacDermid retired one game later)
- Tim Jackman for a sixth round pick (anti-grit?? They got Adam Ollas Mattson with this one)
- Roman Horak and Laurent Brossoit for Ladislav Smid and Olivier Roy (don’t trade with the Oilers)
- Joe Piskula for Brian McGrattan (GRIT!!)
- Mitch Wahl for Mike Testwuide (Wahl is in Europe; I think Testwuide has been done, uh, since this trade)
- Henrik Karlsson for a seventh round pick (John Gilmour! He wasn’t even signed)
- John Negrin for Akim Aliu (AHL for KHL)
- Brendan Morrison for Brian Connelly (I can’t find evidence of Connelly even playing nowadays)
- Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland, and a second round pick for Mike Cammalleri, Karri Ramo, and a fifth round pick
I had to go back until Jan. 12, 2012 to find a non-deadline mid-season trade that actually meant anything (though I suppose you could say the Smid trade was meaningful, but… not necessarily in a good way). There’s really no sense in expecting anything more than, say, Alex Chiasson for a bag of lint.