[Breaking down the plausibility of the week’s biggest rumor.]
A lot of attention is paid to a good young defenseman in Western Canada who may or may not have fallen out of favor with his club. But this time around, it’s not Jacob Trouba who spent the past several days as the subject of the most intriguing trade rumors in the NHL.
Instead, the somewhat surprising revelation from a number of reputable sources was that the Calgary Flames may or may not be shopping Dougie Hamilton started to percolate over the weekend. The idea here is that Calgary may no longer enamored of their young defender, less a year and a half after giving him six years at $5.75 million against the cap.
It would certainly be an interesting wrinkle in this early season, and there is some foundation for the rumors in terms of how Hamilton is used, and has been for some time.
Take, for example, Hamilton’s ice time last season, as he averaged 19:46 per game under Bob Hartley. This was the fifth-highest number on the Flames’ blue line, and in fact also trailed Johnny Gaudreau’s usage. To put it another way, Hartley felt he was better off giving Hamilton fewer minutes per night than both Dennis Wideman (20:37) and Kris Russell (22:52). Despite the TOI limitations, Hamilton finished with 12 goals and 43 points, appearing in all 82 games.
Things have only gotten worse this season under Glen Gulutzan. Not only does the new coach use Wideman a little more than Hartley did last season, but he also seems to have bumped Deryk Engelland ahead of
Monahan Hamilton on the depth chart. In the Flames’ game on Oct. 24, Hamilton only played 15:58, one of the lowest totals of his career. (To be fair, he’s also committing a lot of penalties these days, so that doesn’t help his TOI totals.) But pairing him with Nicklas Grossmann seems like misuse even if you don’t think he’s as good as the hype around him suggests.
So the question is, is that enough evidence of disenchantment on Brad Treliving’s part to want to trade a 23-year-old, 6-foot-6 defenseman with two straight 40-point seasons?
Who’s Going Where?
The thing is, though, that these rumors seem to have cropped up lately because of something Pierre LeBrun said earlier this week. Namely, that someone had called Treliving to kick the tires, but that there wasn’t a lot of traction for such talk.
But back in June, Bob McKenzie reported that some people around the league felt Hamilton might have been available around the draft. Obviously nothing happened then, but the Flames are off to another crap start, Hamilton is getting third-pairing minutes, and some might be inclined to see if they can shake something loose.
And hell, it’s a good time to be interested in acquiring a defenseman, what with Trouba, Hamilton, and maybe even Hampus Lindholm being available. Although, with the Lindholm stuff, consider the source, and then take this harsh on-the-record quote from his GM as a pretty strong indicator that Anaheim isn’t looking to move a top-10 defender in the league. (More on that in Trending Topics tomorrow, though.)
But with this in mind, you can safely start connecting the dots on who might want to acquire a player of Hamilton’s type — young, huge, high-scoring, and locked up at a relatively low price point for his entire prime — at a time when his stock might be particularly low. After all, if he may or may not have been available in June, a rough start to the season for player and team alike might have further encouraged imaginings of a Hamilton-free future for the Flames.
Pick a team that wants blue line help: The Rangers? You bet. The Oilers? Heck yeah. The Bruins? Well, probably not. But everyone else who’s been in on Cam Fowler or Kevin Shattenkirk or any other top-four D will probably be connected to Hamilton if these rumors stretch on much longer. The revived rumblings are only two or three days old at this point, so you might want to give it a minute for everyone to get into a froth over things.
Again, what you have to keep in mind here is that this all comes because LeBrun reported that a team called Calgary about Hamilton’s availability and talks, if they were entertained at all, didn’t get very far.
GMs get calls about players all the time, whether they’d be interested in trading them or not. Where do you think all those rumors of “Malkin to (insert team here)” come from? Teams want to see what it would take, and that’s the kind of thing that gets reported and snowballs into “The Penguins almost traded Malkin.” Things that start out innocuously enough — with an actual capital-I Insider making a simple report that teams are asking about a player — quickly get out of hand like a game of telephone. Now Treliving is looking to trade Hamilton for Dylan McIlrath and a purple monkey dishwasher? C’mon.
This doesn’t, of course, mean that Calgary wouldn’t entertain a trade if someone came in blew their doors off. Nor does it excuse the brutal way two separate Flames coaches have misused Hamilton the past two seasons. The reason these trade rumors exist is, again, that Calgary is still pretty bad and its coach is still mismanaging its defense.
Fans hate to see their teams’ good young players talked about like this, but the reason why this came up is entirely on the Flames.
While the Flames have made some talent misevaluations in recent years, Treliving isn’t about to offload a good young defenseman over fewer than 10 bad games to start a season in which literally no one on the team has been any good. Especially not one for whom he just traded a decent raft of picks in the 2015 offseason.
This Is So Huge, If True: Is It True?
On a B.S. detector scale of 1-5, with one being the most reasonable and 5 being the least:
This is so unlikely I almost feel bad writing about it, but no, your favorite team is not trading for Dougie Hamilton any time soon. Try again in five years.
Calgary trades Dougie Hamilton:
(All statistics via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)