Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s talk about Freddie Hamilton

The exclusion of Mark Jankowski from the Calgary Flames’ opening night roster received mixed reviews from fans. While some viewed the move as a temporary paper transaction and had faith that Jankowski would find his way back to Calgary soon enough, some felt quite a bit worse about cutting a young player who definitely proved he deserved a shot in the NHL. For some reason, this outcry morphed into a courtroom trial for Freddie Hamilton, as fans felt he cost Jankowski a job and were calling for his head. He deserves better.

First, a quick background on his NHL career. Freddie was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 2010 NHL draft, and after bouncing between the NHL and AHL, found his way into the Colorado Avalanche organization in 2015. Shortly after the Flames traded for Dougie Hamilton, Freddie was traded to Calgary for a conditional seventh round pick – a pick that the Flames ended up keeping because Freddie did not play enough NHL games.

Complaint #1: Freddie isn’t useful to have an extra forward

Saddled with fourth line or extra forward duties for most of his time in Calgary, Freddie has made a living being a utility forward who can slot into the lineup wherever necessary. Though he spends most of his time in the press box, he brings energy and positional flexibility whenever he is asked to suit up for a game. He played 26 games for the team last season, scoring two goals in a limited role.

Sure, Freddie isn’t a guy who will put up significant numbers or make flashy plays. He’s a grinder, but it’s important to keep in mind that these types of players are incredibly useful to every team.

For example, Joseph Cramarossa may not have turned heads during his PTO with the Flames this year, but many pundits saw serious potential for him to earn a contract with the team solely due to his ability to play in any situation and with any linemates. He ultimately signed an AHL deal with the Stockton Heat, partially due to the fact that the Flames already had Freddie on an NHL deal.

Complaint #2: Freddie actively hurts the team’s chances of winning

He isn’t a Corsi beast by any means, but it’s simply untrue to say that Freddie lowers the likelihood of a team win. He plays in every fourth game, and when he does play, he fits in seamlessly onto the bottom line. Last season wasn’t his greatest, but taking into account his past two years in Calgary, his numbers actually show he can be an impactful fourth liner. Via Corsica:

In comparison, other depth forwards had significantly worse relative Corsi ratings; Garnet Hathaway at -0.2%, Curtis Lazar at -5.9%, and Tanner Glass at -6.5%, just to name a few. Freddie has the potential to help the team win every time he plays and definitely deserves a bit more recognition than he gets.

Complaint #3: Freddie is only here to keep Dougie happy

It would be naive to ignore the timing of Freddie’s trade to Calgary. It is no secret that Dougie’s transition from Boston to Calgary was a difficult one, and as a cornerstone of the franchise for many years into the future, it was important for the Flames to show Dougie some love. While I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they traded for Freddie as a way to bring some familiarity to Dougie’s recently upturned life, that reasoning cannot be applied to Freddie’s inclusion on the team this year. Dougie and Freddie have a very close relationship. They live together and are rarely seen apart (except on the ice). Even Wikipedia shows that being Dougie’s brother is among the most noteworthy facts about Freddie.

But is this a bad thing? Maybe Freddie doesn’t play a ton of games or play in high stakes situations. Maybe he isn’t a game breaking player who can turn the tides and carry a team on his back. But his brother is. Even if Freddie was as useless a player as Tanner Glass, the mere fact that he makes Dougie feel more included and more comfortable in Calgary should be more than enough reason to keep him around. Dougie is among the best defensemen in the league, and is the key cog in an elite blueline. If Freddie keeps Dougie at his best, there is no reason to complain.

He’s number one in Dougie’s heart, and he should be number one in yours too.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    Also, Freddie scored 2-3 goals that were called back on razor-thin offside calls.

    I always thought he looked energetic and competent when he played.

  • MajorTom

    Your using an argument that Freddie Hamilton did better then Hathaway Glass and Lazar in Corsi. You talk about Cramarrossa.Jankowski is better then all of them too.. Fans are saying Jankowski. Is better then them and played better then Stagan and Brower. Your argument is comparing the wrong players…

      • Flames fan since 83

        untrue. Hamilton is not only a better player, but better suited to play a 13th forward if you are comparing ability.
        If you are comparing contract, then there is no comparison. A $650,000 dollar player is perfectly fine in the press box as 13th forward.

        • MajorTom

          I’m saying bump them both… Hamilton off team.. and Brouwer to ex man and put Jankowski in line up.. Did you even read the article.. it’s about why Hamilton is up when Jankowski is a better player

          • Flames fan since 83

            Major Tom, would you like to see Mangipane and Foo sit in the press box??
            They are both better than Hamilton, with higher ceiling.
            But it seems wiser to have them play games in the AHL than sit here.
            Don’t come back with Jank should be playing here already because everyone already agree on that point.

  • Kevin R

    Hahaha, I was thinking that I wonder if part of the contract renegotiation with Dougie was, “look, I’ll sign a 6 year deal at a discount if you sign my brother & keep him as an extra forward, he isn’t bad at hockey either” Tre says ” sign a 6 year 5.75mill per & we have a deal!” LOL

  • Cheeky

    I like Freddie as extra guy. Centre who can play wing, wins faceoffs and fits in well when called upon. Will always be there as a filler and doesn’t sh@t the bed when playing. It’s not Freddie keeping Janko down, it’s Stajan…

  • L.Kolkind

    Saying, Hamilton is the reason Jankowski isn’t on the team is wrong. He is perfectly suited for his role and it is players like Glass and Brouwer that are truly in the way. We need a player to be a healthy scratch and Hamilton seems happy to do it. Jankowski should either be getting full time minutes in the NHL or at least top line minutes in the AHL. He is getting the latter, having him in Hamilton’s spot would help nobody. It is players that are getting regular NHL minutes that don’t deserve to that are in Jankowski’s way.If we didn’t sign Glass, Stajan or Jankowski could slide over and we would have Janko getting the minutes he deserves. Or we could trade Brouwer and a 3rd for nothing and drastically improve the team.

  • Zalapski

    Every single time Freddie has dressed he has been a more than serviceable player. Bouma, should have been replaced by him for the entire year, but again the cost of players usually keeps them in the lineup. He’s decent at faceoffs, a right shot and absolute class act. I’m happy he is a guy who gets rotated in. Signing a player like Glass is a slap in the face of someone who would actually add value. Not to mention The Flames are now pay Brouwer to do EXACTLY what Freddie what does.

  • Eggs Bennett

    There’s no way those G/60 or primary P/60 is accurate. If he scored 2 goals in 26 games and had 1.18G/60, it means he played 3.9 minutes per game…? Those stats look more like Dougie Hamilton stats…

  • Jobu

    Jobu has no beef with F-Ham, but D-Ham is a grown man and a well-payed professional hockey player. He doesn’t (and shouldn’t) need to cling to Freddie’s skirts anymore to be happy and to play his best.

  • Skylardog

    Natural Stat has him at -4.95% relative Corsi. Sure changes when a large part of the article is based on false and incorrect information.

    If we are keeping, signing, and making decisions based on family we may have a problem. Not saying they don’t work to help a guy who has a family issue get through a tough time. That’s good management. But signing and keeping guys based on that is ridiculous, if we are sacrificing quality in the decision.

  • Skylardog

    And yes – his points per 60 appears to be out of whack as well. I am showing him at 0.51 points/60. Hathaway played the same number of games and was at 1.26.

    I thought Hamilton was a perfect guy to sit. After a little research I am convinced he doesn’t belong, even as a number 14 forward.