DALLAS – One observer at the draft remarked that it seems Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving, “has to always have the shiny new thing,” and while that might be a bit harsh, he certainly does like to wheel and deal his defenseman.
For the third time in four drafts, Treliving made a blockbuster deal involving defensemen. In 2015, he gave up a first- and two second-round picks to get Dougie Hamilton, while last year he again gave up a first- and two second-rounders for Travis Hamonic. And he was at it again on Day 2 of the NHL draft, sending Hamilton, winger Micheal Ferland and defense prospect Adam Fox to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for 21-year-old defenseman Noah Hanifin and 23-year-old center-winger Elias Lindholm. Both Hanifin and Lindholm are restricted free agents, with Lindholm having arbitration rights, but Treliving said he has spoken to both players’ agents and said coming to terms will not be a problem.
“There are only two problems,” Treliving said with a smile. “Term and money. Other than that there will be zero issues. I’ve spoken to both representatives and we have a pretty good understanding of where both sides are.”
There is no doubt that Hamilton is a premier offensive defenseman. He scored a career-high 17 goals last season for the Flames and has scored at least 40 points in each of the past four seasons. But there seem to be some concerns about the player, given that he’s played six years in the NHL and this is now his third NHL team. And on the surface, it seems odd that two teams were willing to deal a commodity that is almost like a unicorn in the game – a right-shot defenseman who has size and can put up points. Treliving did little to quell those concerns when, without naming names, offered one of the reasons for the deal.
“Part of that is making sure we have good chemistry and a good mix in our dressing room,” Treliving said. “After last year, we wanted to make sure we were addressing (that).” When asked whether he was concerned with Hamilton being on his third NHL team, Hurricanes GM Don Waddell said there are no issues. “Don’t worry about it at all,” Waddell said. “There are reasons behind every trade. There are good players who get traded a lot of times. We did our homework on this. No issues at all. No red flags at all.”
Waddell also felt the Hurricanes needed to get bigger up front to supplement their skill at forward and he feels that objective has been accomplished with the earlier acquisition of Jordan Martinook from the Arizona Coyotes and getting Ferland in this deal. Playing primarily on a line with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, Ferland also scored 21 goals this season. And Waddell really likes getting Fox, who has committed to returning to Harvard University for his junior season. Even though he was a third-round pick in 2016, Fox has developed very well at Harvard to the point where there are people who think he’s an A-level prospect. Fox was ranked as the Flames’ No. 2 prospect in THN’s 2018 Future Watch edition and 52nd overall.
The move to Calgary will be made much easier for Hanifin and Lindholm by the fact that they’ll have a lot of familiarity with new coach Bill Peters, who coached them in Carolina. Peters said he intends to pair Hanifin with Hamonic with T.J. Brodie and Mark Giordano rounding out the top four. “I think it will be an elite top four with an ability to move the puck,” Peters said. He also intends on essentially moving Lindholm into Ferland’s spot alongside Monahan and Gaudreau.
“(Lindholm) can take faceoffs on the right side and (Monahan) on the left and when (Lindholm) beats (Monahan) back down low, he can just stay down low and play center,” Peters said. “We played him probably out of the last 25 games, 22 or 23 in the middle in Carolina, wanting to know if we had a center moving forward. I know the answer to the question. We can use him in the middle if we want, but I also want to make sure his minutes are appropriate.”
As far as the Hurricanes are concerned, the trade almost everyone was looking for them to make was to move out Jeff Skinner. There’s also some speculation that they’ll want to address their goaltending after Scott Darling struggled last season. It’s believed they were offering the 42nd overall pick to the Washington Capitals for Philipp Grubauer before he was dealt to Colorado. “We’ll stay busy,” Waddell said. “We came into this weekend with a lot of different things on the table, but you also need a trading partner. As much as we are going to be busy and active in a lot of things, I can’t say for sure anything will get done. I’m pretty sure and confident something will get done, whether it’s in the next few days or in the next 10 days.”
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.