Four days after acquiring Dougie Hamilton from the Boston Bruins for three draft picks, the Calgary Flames have signed the 22-year-old defenseman to a six-year contract extension that will pay him less than $6 million per season.
According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the deal will pay Hamilton $34.5 million, meaning his contract will carry an annual cap hit of $5.75 million. Interestingly, the deal comes in at a price tag just barely higher than the deal that Hamilton reportedly shot down from the Bruins, which would have seen him paid $33 million over six seasons, a difference of $250,000 per year.
The contract itself sees Hamiton receive two separate pay increases, Dreger reported, as the blueliner will go from making $5.5 million in the first two years of the deal to $5.75 million in years three and four with a $6 million salary coming his way in the final two seasons of the contract. The agreement also carries a limited no trade clause in years five and six.
Hamilton is coming off of the best year of his career and was looking poised to become the next star blueliner in Boston. During a season in which Zdeno Chara was sidelined with injury, Hamilton emerged as one of the Bruins top defensemen, scoring 10 goals and 42 points and averaging more than 21 minutes per outing. What’s most impressive for Hamilton, though, is that he so quickly adjusted to the NHL game.
Hamilton was in only his third professional season and had a mere 125 NHL games to his name coming into 2014-15. Due to the injuries, Hamilton was thrust into a much larger role than the Bruins likely expected – he had averaged 19 minutes in 2013-14 and saw his ice time jump more than two minutes per game this past season – and he excelled.
Drafted in the first round, ninth overall, by the Bruins in 2011, Hamilton landing with the Flames helps further solidify what has become quite an impressive blueline. With a stable of defensemen that already includes standouts Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie as well as Dennis Wideman and Kris Russel, Calgary’s defense corps has grown much stronger with the Hamilton signing.
Of defensemen to play at least 1,000 minutes this past season, Hamilton ranked 11th in the league in shot attempts for percentage at 55 percent. His puck possession ability put him among players such as Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk in 2014-15, and if he continues to improve, the $5.75 million cap hit could look like a pittance for the defenseman Hamilton may become.
With Hamilton’s signing, however, there will need to be an odd man out. As it stands, the Flames also have Deryk Engelland and Ladislav Smid under contract, both of which carry cap hits above $2.9 million. In addition, the Flames also currently have unrestricted free agent blueliners in David Schlemko, Corey Potter and Raphael Diaz, though it could be presumed that Hamilton’s signing means all three will be walking away from the Flames this off-season.
Oddly, the extension makes Hamilton, a veteran of but three NHL seasons, the highest paid blueliner on the Flames roster. That said, Giordano is due a contract extension at some point in the next season which will almost certainly be at a higher annual cap hit than Hamilton.
The Flames allowed the 14th fewest goals against this past season, but were one of the worst possession teams in the league. Despite advancing to the second round of the post-season, many believed there were areas the Flames needed to improve. Their play in the defensive zone was one such area, and the trade for and subsequent signing of Hamilton addresses that need.