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Photo Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Why did the Flames make the Dougie Hamilton trade?

Why did the Flames make the Dougie Hamilton trade? Isn’t that the question?

When the rumours started flowing in that the Flames and Hurricane were heading towards central registry on the draft floor, the first reaction was: “Elias Lindholm is a Flame.” After all, he had been rumoured to be on his way out and the Flames were among the top suitors for him.

Not long after, we learned the deal was bigger than just Lindholm. It involved former fifth overall pick in 2015 Noah Hanifin as well. Uh oh. That’s a pretty significant package coming to Calgary, they must be giving up something significant in return. However, that’s what we all thought when the Flames acquired Dougie Hamilton in 2015, and it only ended up being a first and two seconds.

Not this time.

After 18 months of being the Flames’ best offensive defenceman – their second best rearguard overall – and being involved in countless trade rumours, Dougie Hamilton’s time in Calgary was over.

As Flames fans were trying to digest the fact that Hamilton was headed to Carolina for Hanifin and Lindholm, the final bomb dropped. It wasn’t just Hamilton.

Dagger.

Not only did the Flames give up far and away the best ice hockey player in the deal, but they also threw in their cheap 20-goal bull Micheal Ferland and quite possibly the second best prospect in the organization, NCAA standout rearguard Adam Fox. Carolina’s side of the deal remained the same.

Madness ensued on Twitter, where Hamilton has a throng of supporters, and rightfully so. Not only is he one of the premier young defencemen in the league on a team-friendly contract, but many identify with what appears to be a soft spoken, shy and seemingly introverted personality. To expedite him out of town because he’s different than the classic confident, bro-dude hockey player, was mind boggling.

But even so, his value league-wide should be incredibly high given both his counting and underlying numbers. Why the need to throw in a 20-goal scorer and a bluechip prospect? Well, that’s what I tried to figure out.

Why Hamilton?

What is important to understand before reading on is that I think this justification is absurd and I do not condone it. I am but the messenger of compiled information that paints a picture as to why the Flames were inclined to move on from the league’s leading goalscorer from the backend, so put your guns away please.

From the second the Flames acquired Hamilton, all we read about him was that he was a little shyer than everyone, a little odder than everyone, a little quieter than everyone. Media in Boston tried to justify their giving him away for just a first and two seconds by calling him a “loner”, and saying he had no friends in the dressing room.

Real nice.

Hamilton seems like one of the nicest human beings on this planet, and all he got for it was constant character bashing for minding his own business, and preferring to do so.

The talk about his personality didn’t subside in Calgary, and a bizarre narrative surrounding the Flames keeping his brother Freddie on the roster because he required it, so that he could have a friend, emerged on Twitter. No one seemed to notice that Freddie Hamilton fit the perfect mould of a 13th NHL forward that every team carries. He was there because of Dougie in the eyes of many. Freddie Hamilton eventually moved on to Arizona, where he played the same exact role.

I would contend that over past year, Dougie Hamilton has absorbed more potshots and hate over his seemingly introverted personality than many other NHL players, past and present, including those who have been accused of serious criminal offences.

Following the completion of the trade, Flames GM Brad Treliving joined Sportsnet 960 and Pat Steinberg to talk about the move, and indicated it was made in large part due to off-ice considerations:

It sure sounds like they felt Hamilton’s personality became an issue, for whatever reason, and that the locker room was affected by it. Sportsnet’s John Shannon was on SN960 following the trade as well and said issues with Hamilton included “when the entire team would go for lunch at Moxie’s, Hamilton would go to a museum.”

Yikes. Save that for Hockey Taeks Hall of Fame. We would be foolish to assume that Hamilton skipping out on lunch for museums is the motivator for this trade, but it sure seemed like Hamilton wasn’t as integrated into the locker room as the Flames would’ve liked.

Some of us (read: everyone at FN) think that’s an absurd reason to deal someone when they’re an incredible value add on the ice, but after the Vegas Golden Knights turned an atomic-tight dressing room bond into a Stanley Cup Final appearance, it’s clear the Flames brass feel differently.

It’s no secret Treliving felt his player mix was an issue and contributed to the team missing the playoffs, and trading Hamilton for Hanifin – who is already tight with Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk through USA Hockey – would be an upgrade in the room, if not on the ice.

Hanifin is just 21 years old, and was drafted out of the NCAA as a projected 1D, though his progression through two seasons doesn’t rule out his developing into exactly that. The issue is that Hamilton, at 25, already is that.

What this also does is return TJ Brodie to his safety blanket Mark Giordano, and the Flames will bank the “Brodano” pairing can return to its once elite state. They were never as good as Giordano-Hamilton were, but they were excellent nonetheless. It also removes Brodie from his dumpster fire pairing with Travis Hamonic, who looked good when separated from Brodie last year. The Flames will hope Hamonic can combine with Hanifin to create the coveted 1B pairing they had in mind when they acquired Hamonic in the first place.

It’s a lot of hope, but if the Flames turn their one elite pairing and one trash pairing into two above average pairings, then the merits of this trade perhaps begin to show themselves. History has shown though – *cough* Taylor Hall *cough* PK Subban *cough* – giving away the best player in a trade is usually the kiss of death.

It’s clear the Flames have – at least at the time of this writing – downgraded their defence on the ice. Will the same be true one year from now? Three years from now? Does the dynamic in the dressing room change for the better? Time will tell.

Why Ferland and Fox?

Treliving also offered insight as to why the other two pieces were included in the deal, as well.

He said the Flames had “strong concerns,” emphasis on “strong,” about Fox’s signability, and it seems his inclusion in this deal is similar to Brandon Hickey’s in the Mike Smith deal a year ago. Hickey has since been moved again, to Buffalo. If Fox’s inclusion in this deal was the make or break, the Flames may have accepted that giving up extra value they would’ve had to trade anyways in order to get two pieces they coveted was preferred over shopping Fox some other time for an unknown return.

Not sure if I agree with that logic, but I can understand it. The Nashville Predators had a similar situation with another highly regarded third round pick that played in the NCAA, Jimmy Vesey. They chose to hold Vesey’s rights through all four years of college, and when informed he wouldn’t sign with them, scrambled to deal him. In the end, they got a measly third rounder for him. The Flames likely didn’t want to jeopardize what they felt was an important trade over a “what if.” Make of it what you will.

As for Ferland, Treliving made it clear he was a very difficult inclusion, and they really valued his character. However, Ferland is scheduled to be a UFA in 373 days, and scored 21 goals last year. Even though he scored 19 of those before the All-Star Break, and was a non-factor in the second half of the season, he will still be due a raise on his $1.75 million AAV. Lindholm is an unquestioned upgrade on Ferland, if only from a consistency standpoint.

Lindholm is also three years younger and boasts a significantly higher ceiling, especially if he plays beside Monahan and Gaudreau.

Conclusion

After the initial shock wore off, the reasons for this blockbuster from a Flames perspective have come into focus. That doesn’t mean they’re good reasons, but they are reasons.

It’s clear that shaking up the vibe in the locker room was a priority for Treliving, and by moving out someone who appeared to sometimes isolate himself in Dougie Hamilton, and someone who was very popular in Micheal Ferland, Treliving accomplished his goal.

Team control was also a significant factor, seeing as the Flames felt they were likely to lose Ferland to free agency in a year, and Fox to the same in two. Both Hanifin and Lindholm have team control for the foreseeable future, and assuming they don’t like museums, factor into the Flames’ perceived window of contention.

There will be tons more analysis about how the Flames come out of this trade heading into the summer, but the reasons for its consummation are clear now. The Flames seem to have downgraded their blueline, and possibly their roster as it stands, but as we saw last season, the roster wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.

It’s all about how that roster translates to the ice, and we won’t know that for another three and a half months.


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  • FL🔥MES

    I mentioned this above but if we slide MT onto one of the top two lines playing his off wing our top two lines are set, no?

    The 3rd defensive line is also good, just add a guy like Mangiapane to Backlund wing.

    It’s the 4th line that needs to be addressed now.

  • SgtRoadBlock

    i see this team getting push around, But who cares it’s part of Hockey
    Fun fact we only have 5 of the 9 picks we had left for 2019 Draft,
    BT you can do it!!

    • PlayitagainSam

      The way that Washington went through Vegas with their size shoes that size still matters in the NHL, and we got rid of our only tough forward in Ferland.

  • BendingCorners

    The first time I saw Treliving in person was at the ticket holders Q&A in July(?) 2014, on stage with Hartley. At the time I thought Hartley would outlast him (my bad), but I became a fan when he acquired Hamilton and turned out to be pretty good at drafting. Then he signed Brouwer, traded for Lazar and overpaid for Hamonic. Now he’s traded away the best player in a five-player deal. Whoever Treliving was listening to during his first two seasons, he should start listening to again. Or we should start wishing that Hartley had outlasted him.

        • Still no edit button?

          Well chiarelli payed a first and a second for an ahl d. In comparison ro that value giving up the extra second for a top 4 d islanders got fleeced. Then there was chiarelli giving up a consistent 80+ point guy at a young age for a top 4 d. Again that would mean islanders were fleeced by BT

    • whysoserious

      Whomever thought we were going to contend this year with the group we had last year is clearly chewing khat. There seemed to be a huge disconnect in the dressing room for the team to fall as it did last year. I am not a DH fan for a number of reasons 1. dumb lazy penalties that while going to the penalty box he seemed to give a damn about. 2. from what I observed it seemed that he was always late coming back into his own zone and made Gio go into DH’s corner to give hits or absorb hits due to DH’s laziness. I bet Gio is happy with the trade
      I have always maintained that my desire as a fan is to build a perennial winner not flash in pans and you do that by building the core, I believe this trade has increased the core by 2 which is a trend in the right direction. We still have a bit to go to reach that point but it is closer than where we were last year. My recommendations to Tre moving forward are
      -2019 is a DEEP draft move Stone/Brouwer/others for picks next year
      -consider Gillies our Dubnyk, get a goalie coach that can address the same issues Dubnyk had in Edmonton to turn him to one of our goalies in the future
      -get a RW that can play in the top six but it needs to be at an age that isn’t a declining asset
      JMHO

  • Theo 2.0

    Totally taken to the cleaners on this deal. Hamilton was supposed to get us a top scoring forward. Instead we have Lindholm who wants 5 million per. Then we get Hanifin who is tied with Yakupov for worst +- in the last 3 years. -53

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      Last night I had a revelation. This trade needs to be looked at in light of whatever Brad does for the rest of the summer. In as blunt a fashion as Brad can manage, he said he wasn’t done making changes this off-season.

      As for the substance of the article, no one is “picking” on Dougie. Dougie is awesome as a person and he fits somewhere. Just because management (and the team?) decided he didn’t fit here doesn’t mean they hated him, or anything, and no one needs to come to his defence.

      It just didn’t work.

  • BendingCorners

    I don’t buy the dressing room stuff. I don’t care if the players hate one another as long as they play to win. For a few million dollars per year, they can suck it up. Photo-bombing interviews and visiting museums is not a reason to trade somebody.
    Hamilton was easily the best player in the trade; unlike SkyDog I view his scoring surge late last year as a sign that he was one of the few players that still cared about making the playoffs. Treliving gave up three more years of cost-controlled excellence in exchange for (combined) eight to ten years of cost-controlled adequacy. Maybe it works out, and Lindholm and Hanifin become excellent – they certainly could, and the trade isn’t extremely lopsided, just somewhat.
    The Flames gave up a top-pair D and a 3rd line scoring forward for a 2nd line forward and a 2nd pair D, in hopes that their D overall would fit together better and that the scoring from the forwards would improve. It may work, and it may help with cap management next year, but it is not an impressive deal.

  • everton fc

    I love Ferland, but always wondered if he’d sign w/Winnipeg and spend the rest of his NHL career “home”, if he could. If he produces even what he produced in Calgary, I bet he ends up back in his home province, w/the Jets.

    If the story about Hamilton opting out of Moxie’s for a museum is true, then he did it to himself, didn’t he? Being aloof is fine, in some respects; in a team sport, it doesn’t really fit.

  • PlayitagainSam

    Start compiling the list of screwups that Treleving has made and you’ll start to see that he is the problem and not the players or even Gulutzan.

    • FL🔥MES

      Save comments like these for December – total waste of time to speculate on something with no outcome yet.

      Looks like a good trade to me now. Time will tell.

      • Still no edit button?

        He won’t be commenting on December. By that time Oilers will be well out of the playoffs and their trolls go back to hibernating. They hibernate all winter which explains why they have a huge lack of hockey knowledge

  • Off the wall

    I must admit I had a hard time digesting the trade. I was shocked and disappointed at the outset.
    I love our Flames and I want them to be successful.. every game, every year.

    When players exit our team, I don’t think it’s necessary to paint them with a muddied brush. I’m not pointing any fingers at anyone. It’s easy to get sidetracked with emotions and thoughts, I know I am guilty of this to. But we don’t NEED to bring up oddities, or bash a player because they’re different.
    That’s what tabloids and bad reporters do.
    We’re a classier organization than that!

    To Dougie Hamilton: I hope you do well in Carolina. If you needed a change of scenery, I understand. I will miss what you brought to our defensive core.
    Best of luck to you!

    To Michael Ferland: We know you gave your heart and soul to this team. You’ve come a long way in your development and I wish you all the best in Carolina!

    To our incoming players, Hanifin and Lindholm: We’re happy to have you as part of our Flames family! We hope you enjoy our beautiful city and we look forward to your contributions on our team!

    • Franko J

      Well put OTW.
      When a trade of this magnitude happens there will be always be detractors and supporters. I for one still maintain that this trade was consummated by Treliving due in part how this team folded down the stretch. With BT being very respectful to the players privacy, who knows maybe during exit interviews is when he started to think about re-shaping this roster.
      Maybe Treliving had talks with a number a teams with a number of players on this roster and this deal made the most sense in his mind.

  • HAL MacInnis

    Just a few observations about this trade.

    I thought we could get more for Hamilton, but being a Canadian team, we take who we can get. Hamilton took many stupid penalties which speaks of being behind on the play and being mentally irresponsible. And for all his offensive talent, he could not lead a defensive pairing with many other capable options on this team. He’s not a responsible defenceman.

    Ferland was a great story for our team, but his concussion issues hindered his aggressive play style and the only time he truly shined was during an inconsistent effort with two of the top players in the league. I’ll miss him, but it makes sense to move on while his value is high (and before he demands a raise, as well).

    Adam Fox would not have signed with Calgary, as Treliving stated, so it was the only way to safely sweeten the deal because Carolina knows that they are giving up two very good players as well.

    And lastly Treliving is all in with Bill Peters. You don’t hire a coach and then not trust his instinct and ability to evaluate players he, himself, has coached for years. You don’t get an analysis of value as good as we got with Bill. Hanifin and Lindholm address two things that we lacked in the players that we traded away; a big disciplined defenceman who uses his size and skates well and a versatile forward that can slot in anywhere, with any line and who is good at face-offs. Let me repeat that, he’s good at face-offs and has been trending up in that department.

    And the icing on the cake is that we got two more disciplined, younger players. Some people don’t truly acknowledge how rare it is to have youth and responsibility go hand in hand.

    I’m totally fine with this trade.

    • Kevin R

      Just to put in perspective, both players were top 5 picks in the last 3 years. Those are basically lottery picks that teams have to suffer the whole year to get. Look at our last 5 years. We suffered horribly in two of them & got Monahan & Bennett. 2 years we made the playoffs & last year we bubbled when we were expected to win. We just got two lottery picks from the last 5 years to help with a proper rebuild. I love the age group of core & expected core players we are building upon. Yes a step backward in the short term because Tre miss-stepped too many forward last year. Lindholm may very well become that top 1RHS RW we have been needing since Iggy. Beauty of this, Tre can probably get both locked down longterm to some decent cap manageable contracts this summer. I see the glass half full & the rebuild starting to take shape.

  • RKD

    Sportsnet’s John Shannon was on SN960 following the trade as well and said issues with Hamilton included “when the entire team would go for lunch at Moxie’s, Hamilton would go to a museum.” That says it all. Treliving “We want players that want to be here…there’s some things I won’t get into… I don’t think they wanted to give up Ferland probably Waddell playing hardball but he’s not a bull anymore. He scored most of his goals in the 1st half, faded down the stretch and after his bell was rung he doesn’t hit anymore.

    • Kevin R

      They think they got their Tom Wilson but we only saw our Ferland version of Tom Wilson in about 10-12 games. The kid does have other offensive talent but many questioned if he truly was top line RW for a long while.

      • everton fc

        I think Ferland would have had better #’s this season, if left on our first line. Maybe he resigns in Calgary, as a UFA? If he goes to Winnipeg, I think the Jets are a perfect fit.

  • Rockmorton65

    For everyone critical of trading Dougie, consider this.

    Hamilton only scored 12 more points than Hanifin this past season (playing 3 more games). Through their first three seasons, Hamilton and Hanifin had the exact same number of points. Hanifin is three years younger that Dougie. Consensus is that Hanifin already has a better two way game and is much more physical than Hamilton. Not to mention a higher compete level.

    I think some people fell in love with the idea of Hamilton, rather than the actual player. I thInk Hanifin is going to be a much better defenseman than Hamilton, even as early as next year.

  • Joeyhere

    The “character “ issue was evident last year – even with an awful coach – the players have to own some of that
    I sure hope this is the fix that’s needed because to me this was an overpay
    We gave up The best player, a 20 goal winger and a blue chip prospect. Our hope has to be that Hanifin becomes better then either Hamilton is or Fox will become
    Treliving can rightfully be judged by this trade -but it will take time to know the verdict

  • cjc

    Responding to a bunch of people that have Jankowski pencilled in as 2C. Backlund will not be the 3C this year. He just signed for 5 million $. Jankowski is not as good and probably never will be. Backlund was better at the same age.

    Trade was made for bad reasons, Hanifin and Lindholm combined scored fewer goals than Ferland and Hamilton.

    • everton fc

      Backlund is also better, at the moment, than Jankowski.

      I’d ratjjer see our first line be Gaudreau-Monahan-Tkachuk, and our second line be Bennett-Backlund-Lindholm. But I think it looks this way, in Peters’ mind;

      Gaudreau-Monahan-Lindholm
      Bennett-Backlund-Tkachuk
      Maybe Mangiapane-Jankowski-Frolik
      Hathaway-Shore-Foo
      Lazar & ?? as the extras

      We buyout Brouwer.

      The defence:

      Gio-Brodie/Hanifin-Hamonic/Andersson-Kulak. We trade Stone, Wotherspoon is the #7 d-man. That’s what I hope happens….

      One thing not many are considering; we have to sign Lindholm and Hanifan, at some point. No way Lindholm’s worth $5mill – I’d dump him now, if he’s going to play hardball. We ow have room to sign Hanifan, which we should. Then we have to put a long-term deal together, for Tkachuk.
      All that said, I think Brouwer’s here for one more season, and I still hope we at least phone about Kessel. Can you imagine adding Kessel? Lindholm with Tkachuk and Backlund?? Bennett-Jankowski-Frolik, as your third line??? We’d be pretty deep, if that could be accomplished.

  • loudogYYC

    Even though I hate losing Dougie, I’m ok with the player swap. Lindholm and Hanifin combined have a brighter future than Hamilton and Ferland. The part I don’t get is why give up a great trade asset in Fox and they had to, why not get something more.
    Normally when 2 players tell you they don’t want to re-sign it means you’re not in a position of strength and you’re probably not gonna love the return in a trade. This deal makes Don f*ckin Waddell look like a genius. It’s time for Treliving to stop making splashes and work on improving depth.

  • HOCKEY83

    This is a great trade. Ferland was only good because he played with Johnny and Monny. Hanifan got 12 less points in 3 less games than Dougie last season. 4 years younger. Both players will do great as Flames. I’m willing to bet Hanifan’s and Lindholm’s Combined point totals are more than Hamilton’s and Ferland’s at the end of this coming season. Fox would have never signed in Calgary. He can see the log jam just like the rest of us that Calgary has a D in the prospect pool. Can’t wait to see these guys play.

  • class1div1

    No doubt about Hamilton;s talent,but IMO ,he would go through 5 game spells where it seemed he wasn;t mentally committed to the game.This would happen every 30 games or so.Can’t do that and be Pro.

  • Franko J

    Too bad Carolina didn’t include one of the following in the trade as well,

    Warren Foegele, Valentin Zykov, or Morgan Geekie.

    Maybe Treliving was asking for one these prospects and that was the sticking point in the deal.

  • reidja

    If one doesn’t understand the importance of team chemistry, one needs to get out and experience a little more life. Personality has limited the potential of many human beings who had skill to omachieve more if they could understand a bigger picture and focus on more on helping those around them.

  • TheWheeze

    Was wondering if maybe Ferland asked for a trade? Pure baseless speculation on my part but maybe he saw where the team was trending and some of the things Peters was saying and saw writing on the wall. Hey, people. It’s entirely possible

    • everton fc

      Doubt it. He’s family-oriented, and I think his wife is from here, though I’m not certain. Calgary closer to Manitoba, than North Carolina. He was simply older, and therefore more expendable, than Bennett. At least that’s how I see it. He’ll be 27 when next season ends. Lindholm will be 24. Age matters.