Now is not the time for a big trade

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.

A refresher

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 Keep in mind, Hockey-Reference does appear to be a little out of date with its definition of “active”, but there are still a couple of things to keep in mind regarding this: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.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Bruins wanted picks that year. I do beleive that year was one of the 58395893x Edmonton got #1 loser award! Hehe. Boston probably wanted that pick. Hamilton was a #9 pick, so no shocker that didn’t fly. I’m sure the offer was still substantial. Flames happened to have a pick worth losing at that time.

    • Neddd

      Are you responding to my post? I have no idea what you’re talking about. Hamilton was drafted in 2011, Boston traded him to Calgary last summer June 2015. The rumoured request by Boston to Chiarelli was Edm’s 2015 15th pick (which they obtained by trade) and Nurse. Chiarelli supposedly turned them down. The number one pick was not part of the deal.

      • Kevin R

        If I recall, Oilers had offered better picks than the Flames did & Bruins wouldn’t trade him to Chia because the Oilers were posturing an offer sheet on him. Didn’t the Oilers have the #16 from Pitt on the Perron deal? I could be wrong.

        • Neddd

          Yes you’re right, Edm had the 16th pick (not 15th). Who really knows what actually went on. The rumour I’m familiar with is that Boston wanted Nurse as part of the deal and Chiarelli balked.

          • Kevin R

            Hindsight is always 20/20 but don’t you think the Oilers would have been better off parting with Nurse & that #16 & I believe Marancin was the other throw in for a potential top pairing RH D Oilers coveted instead if giving up Hall for Larsson? Getting that RH D & keeping Hall would have been having your cake & eating it too. Could never figure that one out.

          • Neddd

            I think it depends on how you look at it. Larsson doesn’t have an offensive side to his game but he’s proven to be able to handle the tough minutes which Hamilton hasn’t (at least not yet anyway). Also, Larsson’s contract at $4.1mln has allot of value to it.

            The other thing to consider is that Nurse doesn’t have to be protected in the upcoming expansion draft. This allows Edm to protect another defenceman, likely Brandon Davidson, who they would otherwise not be able to protect.

            So looking at the situation this way, Edm gets Larsson, Nurse, and Davidson (combined cap hit of $7.3mln) versus Hall and Hamilton and lets say Benoit Pouliot as they will lose someone in the expansion draft and his name has come up as a likely candidate (combined cap hit of $15.7mln).

            Of course Nurse and Davidson are still on their entry level deals but I think you have to include respective contract value/s to get a true picture. In this scenario they free up enough cap space to sign a high profile free agent (say Milan Lucic). In a cap world cheap contracts carry allot of value beyond financial.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    I was just speculating, I dont know anything about the terms Edmonton and Boston discussed.

    The Flames had the 15th pick in 2015 which was part of the deal for hamilton, as well as two 2nd round picks.

    • Neddd

      Yup sorry you’re right, Calgary had the 15th pick, Edm actually had the 16th pick that year which they traded away to the NYI’s as part of the Griffin Reinhart (regrettable) deal. I believe the rumoured request by Boston to Edm was that 16th pick and Nurse (Edm’s 2nd round pick may have been part of it as well).

  • dontcryWOLF88

    All either of us can suggest here is speculation. Maybe the Oilers offer didn’t look as good, or maybe or maybe they didn’t want it that bad. Impossible to tell.

    Obviously as an Oilers fan you wish one way, and me the other. This how these things go. What I do know for sure is other teams wanted him and the flames got him. Virtually every pundit in sports considered it a win for the flames. I looked at the players Boston got with those picks and time will tell who won. Generally speaking thougg, semi established d man is worth a lot in unproven draft talent

    • Neddd

      I agree that time will tell, Hamilton is still young for a defenceman so who knows where he’ll be 2-3 years from now. I don’t think that Calgary will lose in terms of what they gave up regardless (15th pick is not a big deal). I think the concern will be more in terms of contract value (i.e. $5.7mln could be expensive if he doesn’t progress past a top 4-5).

      All I’m saying is that you don’t get a sure thing/proven top three defenceman for a middle 1st round pick (which at the time of the trade the popular belief was that Hamilton was already a proven top 3d). The last season and change this season I think suggests that he’s not there yet, hence the reason for the seemingly low price for him (15th pick).

  • dontcryWOLF88

    When hamilton came to calgary they had 6 days to decide what to give him until he became a UFA. contracts under those terms are always a gamble. Maybe they over payed a bit. Hard to tell right now. The whole flames roster seems overpaid with the current situation. But a fans gotta beleive that will come around. What’s the alternative?

  • dontcryWOLF88

    If only Chiarelli could have pawned Eberle for the Larsson though eh?!

    It’s a slippery slope arguing that trading a higher value player for a lower value is a good deal because it’s more cap friendly. Like, we don’t want pay McDavid $11.5 mil, so let’s trade him for Trouba at $5.5 mil. See where I’m going on that?

    I understand your point, and Larsson seems a good fit so far. But players like Hall don’t grow on trees, epically not if the Oilers are done with the basement now (remains to be seen!) Aside from Connor he was the only 1st overall that showed he was worth a year of pain.

    • Neddd

      Opinions will vary. Personally I would have preferred finding a way to keep Hall but as I showed there’s more than one way to look at it (it’s not as simple as to say that Chiarelli’s just dumb). Not sure if we’ll ever know whether it was the right move or not.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Yeah, I hear you. And honestly I don’t envy any GM of a Canadian hockey club. Anything less than Stanley Cup champions and you’ll get torn apart for every move. In the case of Chiarelli, it is a difficult thing to say “hey, let’s have patience and wait for the right deal to get some good D men.” Meanwhile the fans are pulling their hair out and calling for your head.

    And sh#t, look at the Flames. I actually highly approve of most of the.moves Treliving has made, and that goes for a lot of people who know.more about these things I do as well, yet Flames have gone nowhere yet. Frustrating stuff man. It’s a hard hard thing building a winning club…Or maybe that’s just tell myself to feel better? …I dunno :$