How much does Dougie Hamilton contribute to the offence?

Dougie Hamilton scored his fourth goal of the season in dramatic fashion. The recipient of a fantastic pass from Johnny Gaudreau, he was able to then split two Coyotes en route to the net before deking out the goalie and scoring in overtime for the Flames.

All in all, it was an extremely cool goal: the Flames’ 73rd of the season. Unfortunately, as it would so be right now, the Flames aren’t a particularly high-scoring team; their 2.43 goals per game is only 20th in the NHL. 

This is a team that, point blank, has to start scoring more. Gaudreau’s return should help things, but Hamilton is probably going to be a massive part of any offensive resurgence, too.

What kind of defenceman is Dougie Hamilton?

At worst, Hamilton is an offensive top four defenceman. At present, playing alongside Mark Giordano, you could make the case for him to be a top pairing guy, even if his ice time doesn’t necessarily reflect that just yet. But it should – the way he’s been progressing, he’ll almost certainly be a top pairing player throughout his career, most of which is yet to come.

He can defend, we know that much. Where he really shines, though, is in creating offence. Via OwnThePuck:

Dougie Hamilton HERO Chart

When it comes to making plays and suppressing shots, Hamilton is a top four defenceman. When it comes to scoring goals and possessing the puck, he’s a top two defenceman. When it comes to just plain generating shots, he’s on a whole other level. And his teammates tend to be better when they share the ice with him, to boot.

In short: he creates. A lot.

Points

Hamilton has four goals and 14 points in 30 games. Twelve of them are primary points; just two are secondary assists, so he isn’t piggybacking off of anybody to create; he’s the one initiating plays and making things happen. 

The next highest-scoring Flames defenceman is his partner, Giordano, who has three goals and 11 points in the same number of games – and while averaging roughly five more minutes per game, at that.

After those two, Dennis Wideman and T.J. Brodie have seven points each: Wideman in 23 games, Brodie in 30. Still, though – that’s only half of what Hamilton has scored, and these guys are numbers three and four in Flames defencemen scoring.

Hamilton is fifth in team-wide scoring, behind Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Michael Frolik, and Sam Bennett. If you go by points per game, he’s sixth; Kris Versteeg pulls ahead of him in that stat.

Hamilton is scoring at a rate of .47 points per game, which is tied for 42nd amongst all defencemen in the NHL so far this season. Giordano is at .37 points per game, which is tied for 65th.

He’s simply the strongest catalyst the Flames have from their blueline for getting the puck in the opposition’s net – and it should be noted that he’s only shooting at 4.7%, below his career average of 5.8%. There will probably be more to come.

Shots

A lot more to come, considering how so far, Hamilton has put 85 shots on net. One could say he doesn’t throw them away.

That’s the most on the Flames by a fair amount. Mikael Backlund is in second place with 72 shots on net; in the same number of games, Hamilton is up 13 shots on him. Frolik is in third place with 70, and then finally there’s another defenceman, Giordano, who has directed 66 pucks on net so far this season.

No other Flames defenceman has had 50 shots on net yet. Monahan and Gaudreau are the only other players to have reached that tally with 55 and 53 shots, respectively.

Hamilton is the Flames’ clear shooting leader, and it’s hard to see anyone taking over for him at this stage of the season. He’s presently tied for 13th across the entire NHL in shots; no other Flame is even featured in the top 50.

And again: a reminder that Hamilton does this with less ice time than others on his team are afforded. He’s fourth in average ice time per game, and he’s fourth in total powerplay time. 

Individual Corsi For

Points are the most direct way of measuring a player’s offensive contribution. Shots come after that; after all, it’s rather difficult to score if you aren’t putting the puck on net. Corsi For is the third tier of this evaluation: even if the puck isn’t getting on net, at least you’re putting it somewhere in its vicinity. Generating that kind of traffic is crucial when it comes to scoring to begin with.

And it’s yet another field Hamilton leads in. So far this season, he has 107 individual corsi events he himself has generated. Frolik is second on the Flames with 103, and then Giordano at 95 – 12 fewer than his defensive partner.

I’ve been harping on how Hamilton doesn’t get to play quite as much as his compatriots, so let’s take a quick look at his iCF60: his individual Corsi For per 60 minutes. In that area, it’s actually Frolik who leads the Flames with 15.82; Hamilton is in second place at 14.70. Backlund comes in third at 14.00.

There’s quite the gap after that: Gaudreau is fourth at 12.39, and Matthew Tkachuk is fifth at 12.37.

In summation

Even when we don’t consider the defensive side of the game, it’s easy to see why Hamilton is such an elite offensive producer. All of the numbers support him strongly as one of the Flames’ very best when it comes to creating, whether they be mere chances or actual points produced.

And then when you bring his defensive play into the conversation, you see Hamilton’s offensive proclivities aren’t hurting his defensive play in the slightest. Not when he’s a 53.23% 5v5 CF player: third on the Flames, behind just Tkachuk and Frolik.

Sure, pucks will go against him – but Hamilton sends far, far more towards the opposition’s net than he allows to be directed towards his own.

He’s 23 years old. Hamilton is going to be leading the Flames’ offence from the blueline for years.

  • FlamesRock

    Hamilton is this awesome and yet Toronto thought they could have him for some spare parts and a pat on the back! Toronto fans and media seem to have a very casual relationship with reality!

    • Kensington

      Can’t blame Leaf fans for thinking they can get a star for nothing from the flames, they did it with Gilmour and to a lesser extent Dion. Calgarys worst trades ever by far were made to the leafs

  • Thunder1

    Astute analysis, Ari.

    Now that we know GG’s plan is to transition the Flames into a solid, possession driven team, what does this leave us vis-a-vis the white elephant caught in a sticky wicket by the name of TJ Brodie?

      • Thunder1

        I don’t think so, WW. GG’ s here to stay. I think Hamonic for Brodie makes a lot of sense.

        Also, I think you might have spent too much time with Graham James somewhere in your distant past.

        Is there a coach you like?

          • Thunder1

            I’m not making fun of sexually abused children, Walter. I am making fun of the misguided and overly-apparent negative bias you harbour towards the organization’ s coaching staff.

            I knew I’d get run on the Hamonic for Brodie suggestion. Meh… somebody’s got to suggest something. The stench of the worst plus/minus in the league doesn’t go unnoticed.

            What I didn’t know was the lack of support I would get on the board by calling you out on your coach hatred. Seriously, if you Walter White, were allowed to pick the next coach of the Flames, who would it be?

            And no, you are not allowed to pick yourself, Great one!

    • Baalzamon

      Brodie will be fine. He’s having a rough year, for whatever reason, but this sort of system should play right into his wheel house.

      Besides, the Brodie-Wideman pair has actually been fairly decent since the start of the month. We’re starting to see fewer pucks going against them.

  • OKG

    Can’t say I am sold on Hamilton’s offensive game. His shot generation is fine but Brodie and Giordano to me are more offensively impressive. They just don’t play this mind-numbing game of firing point shots from the walls as well as Dougie.

    I di think Dougie’s shot suppression numbers are misleading; he was paired predominantly with Russell and Jokipakka before Giordano.

  • Kevin R

    Ari, last game both goals were scored by Dmen. Like the beginning of the year, our backend is coming & figuring out a way to be more involved in the offence with the new system(or coaching style).

    I wish we can get someone that can work well with Brodie, not that Brodie is that bad but we are not properly setting him up to see the best of TJ. Unfortunately, we have 3 capable top pairing blue liners & one is going to have to carry a bottom pairing calibre partner. I wish Tre could find a way to move Wideman sooner than later, really don’t want to wait until the TDL.

  • The Sultan

    Besides, Hamonic’s rescinded his trade request. I wouldn’t do that deal if NYI threw in their first round pick.

    Thatcher Demko called up by the Canucks with Miller’s injury. What do you think of that WW?

    Also the possibility of seeing Ramo back in the NHL this year, albeit with the Leafs. Looks like Toronto is gunning for last place again, haha.

    • Ari Yanover

      That’s according to the official NHL tally, yes.

      Though I might’ve misstepped some; Corsica has his iSF at 54. (That said, I would obviously go with the NHL’s tally.) But for the sake of comparison, what you’re asking about is missed shots+shots on net – Fenwick – and Corsica has his iFF at 71 (and his iCF at 86, while we’re at it).

      Obviously not a perfect way of collecting information, but this still provides a good relative handle when it comes to shots on net vs. missed shots.

      • Lucky 13

        Thanks Ari, great stuff. I didn’t really expect you to answer that as my comment above was a little facetious, seeing how Backlund misses the net as frequently as he does. (Eye test)
        Hardest shot at 103.3 mph and fastest skater. Yikes, he’s impressive to say the least.
        If his shooting percentage on net were marginally improved, he would be filling his pockets with points.

  • Lucky 13

    I appreciate all the writers on this blog. It is refreshing to see different analysis from varied viewpoints.

    The same applies to our members as well.
    I don’t always agree with comments, however I have to say I’ve had a paradigm shift in my thoughts since reading Flames Nation.

    Ari, I especially enjoy your articles. I can sense the “fan” in the style you exhibit.
    Keep up the good work!

  • Tundradog

    This is the danger of advanced stats. Hamilton is putting shots at the net, and getting credit for doing so, regardless of whether they are good attempts, bad attempts, or blocked attempts.

    Alone, the Corsi looks good, but with the 4.7% shooting percentage, which is down from his career level of 5.8%, it could and should be argued that his choices – pass or shoot – are suspect. Is he helping the guys around him to score?

    So lets look at that end too. Among defensemen, points per game at 0.47 is 42nd in the NHL. Gio is 65th. Two years ago, 3 Flames defensemen (Gio, Wideman, Brodie) were in the top 30 with minimum 40 games played, and Hamilton was 19th playing for Boston with a 0.58 points per game. Last year 3 in the top 30 (Gio, Brodie, Hamilton). They are all treading water offensively this year.

    But don’t blame Hamilton or any of the others. This all falls on GGs shoulders. He is a place holder. When the Flames fired Hartley, they thought they could get Boudreau. GG was 4th on their list.

    • Greatsave

      This is the danger of advanced stats. Hamilton is putting shots at the net, and getting credit for doing so, regardless of whether they are good attempts, bad attempts, or blocked attempts.

      Actually it’s traditional counting stats that’s saying Hamilton has put the most shots on goal on this team. Don’t blame advanced stats.

  • jupiter

    I think most of us knew DH belonged in a top pairing role, and after a slow start and being assigned a fringe role by the coaching staff, he has responded with clarity.

    IMO ,the only handicap remaining on defense is the foot speed of Englland and Wideman.

    On another note we had a few stars this week proclaim that they.ve had enough abuse, and showed there willingness to take matters into there own hands.

    McDavid calling a player classless, after acting classless himself. Wayne coming to his rescue. Embarrassing.

    Price preforming a ground and pound with his blocker. WOW That’s allowed??

  • jakethesnail

    If McD can’t stand the hitting on the ice, perhaps a career in figure skating would suit him better. Almost every time McD gets hit he looks back at the ref wanting a penalty and thereby making the ref look bad. He does it so often, the refs won’t call penalties because 99% (see 99 – the greatest whiner of them all!) of them are not.

  • Flames Fan in Edmonchuck

    Trading Brodie is ridiculous. Trading for a legit top 4 dman to play with him should be the priority. Someone who lets Brodie switch back to his off side. This won’t happen this season, but we should have space during the off season… this and a high end winger, clean up the RFA’s and sign one of our goalies, next year we will be a LEGIT threat to win it all 🙂

  • MWflames

    this hamilton/gio line is working very well.

    This gives us a huge advantage of being able to put a caliber of player like brodie on the 2nd pairing. But none of the mainstays of our bottom 3 are going to allow brodie to play to his potential being on his left side. You can’t blame this on brodie.

    There’s a huge hole in our line-up for someone to graduate from the Heat, and fill. And given the expiring contracts and expansion draft, we’re going to need at least one player to step up within the next 10 months.

    I think Kulak is close, and i think wotherspoon has always deserved more opportunity to prove himself. Kylington and Andersson are both likely NHLers, but another year of seasoning after this one is probably required for those two.

    I hope Wotherspoon gets to step into wideman’s spot with this call-up. I can’t imagine he isn’t better than Wideman defensively at this point…

  • MWflames

    Another point: our points from the back end are way down as someone has mentioned earlier. Numbers are skewed negatively because this was a beer league team for at least the first 15 games of year. Or in other words, i suspect the offensive numbers from our top 3 dmen will improve as the season progresses.

    Once the forwards learn to play the possession game better as well this will reflect positively with our defence. This is part of the learning curve for our forwards, but also a maturity thing as many of them are young and still developing.

  • Rock

    Flames should trade Hamilton now that Gio has made him worth something. You don’t win championships with defenseman who only play offense like Hamilton, Karlson, Suban. Cup winners have two way defenseman like Doughty, Seabrock, Duncan Keith, Montreal figured that out and traded subban for Weber there chance of winning has greatly increased

        • Greatsave

          Oh right forgot, Crosby carried his team of Letangs and Gonchars and Schultz’s while Kopitar Toews Bergeron and Datsyuk were getting free rides off Voynov Campbell Kaberle and Rafalski.

          And before you accuse me of cherry-picking examples, let me remind you that Hamilton is neither the only nor the best all-round Flames d-man.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Id say both Hamilton and Giordano have upped their game in regards to defensive responsibility. Going through that change at the start of the season may have been a big reason why the Flames didnt get the results we all hoped for.

    Hartley really encouraged teh D to step in for the offensive push. Thats not a bad thing, although, I think GG has made them switch to a defense first mentality. That wasnt working at all for the first 20 odd games, and flags were shooting up all over about it….yet, team GAA has been dropping fast since then. The Flames are getting the better of scoring chance metrics these days and Ill eat my criticisms of GG earlier in respect of that. Solid goltending and solid defensive play will give you a chance to win every night. Now offensive confidence is coming along for the Flames, as well.

    This team really seems to be coming together. Finally, the team is playing up to what most people expected them to this year. Lots of justified optimism here. There arnt many stats colums for individual Flames players that seem to be temporarily inflated by luck. They are making progress, but not at rates that shouldnt be sustainable. Certain- ahem, ahem- Northern rivals, had lots of players shooting way above thier career averages at the start.