NHL free agency: Will Flyers have shot to sign Dougie Hamilton in offseason?

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What goes into Flyers' chances at Hamilton originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

If Flyers fans are having dreams of Dougie Hamilton wearing orange and black, there's no wondering why.

The Flyers missed the 2021 playoffs in large part because they allowed the NHL's most goals per game at 3.52 and failed to fill the hole left by the retirement of top-pair, righty-shot defenseman Matt Niskanen.

Hamilton, currently playing in the postseason with the Hurricanes, is a top-pair, righty-shot defenseman and widely considered the best pending unrestricted free-agent blueliner.

And for good reason.

During his three seasons with Carolina, the 6-foot-6, 229-pound Hamilton has ranked first among all NHL defensemen in goals (42), 11th in plus-minus (plus-50) and 14th in points (121).

In the latest PHT Power Rankings on NBCSports.com, outlining the top 2021 UFAs, Adam Gretz wrote that Hamilton "should have no shortage of suitors if he makes it to market. A team like Philadelphia should be all in here. As should Carolina when it comes to re-signing him."

That's the first obstacle in the Hamilton-to-the-Flyers dream. The Hurricanes finished as a top-three club during the 2020-21 regular season and are aiming for a long playoff run. From many indications, Hamilton, a soon-to-be 28-year-old, is in a good spot with Carolina. In March, Hurricanes president and general manager Don Waddell said to NHL reporter Frank Seravalli that "Dougie wants to stay here. We’ve talked to him, we love Dougie, we want him to stay here. ... I truly think Dougie wants to stay here."

The Flyers, in their current spot, will highly likely have interest in the free-agent market's top defenseman. But the plausibility of the Flyers acquiring Hamilton is not as simple as pay that man. The Flyers would need to be able to pay Hamilton what he wants in a flat-cap world and pay others in the future when the cap could stay stagnant. With any spending, the Flyers must be cognizant of the fact that Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux will be due new contracts after next season. Couturier has earned a considerable raise.

This offseason, the July 21 NHL expansion draft for the Kraken will provide the Flyers some cap relief. Offseason trades will be another avenue if the Flyers want to free up space for spending on a bigger name.

Per CapFriendly.com and PuckPedia.com, Hamilton has an average annual value of $5.750 million on his current deal. He is due for a raise and some term.

The Flyers will have to be "creative," as Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said, to vastly improve in key areas this offseason. No doubt, landing Hamilton would require creativity.

"We need to improve our ability to keep the puck out of the net," Fletcher said. "Everything that goes with that is what we’ll look to do this offseason."

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