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Monday, November 14, 2016

Penguins Interested in Flames' Defenseman Dougie Hamilton

According to Nick Kypreos, as stated in this article by Rory Boylen on Sportsnet, the Arizona Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins have been 'kicking tires' regarding Calgary Flames defenseman Dougie Hamilton.

"“As far as trade talks are concerned you hear Dougie Hamilton’s name out there,” Kypreos said, before downplaying Calgary’s interest in moving him right now. “I don’t suggest for one second that Calgary’s shopping this guy, but there are teams inquiring. The two teams I’m hearing that are kicking tires are Arizona and Pittsburgh.”"

Hamilton, 23, was the 9th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, by the Boston Bruins. He was traded to the Calgary Flames for a first round pick, and two second round picks, in in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, at the very same draft, after playing for the Bruins for 3 seasons. In 260 NHL regular season games played, Hamilton has 34 goals and 92 assists for 126 points, along with 141 PIMs. In 19 playoff games, he has 2 goals and 8 assists for 10 points.

Whether or not the Flames are actually considering moving Hamilton, it's worth considering what the Pens would move, and even before that point, it's worth considering if the Pens should pursue Hamilton in the first place.

Firstly, let's look at the Penguins' defensive depth chart.

In terms of natural handedness, the Penguins have two NHL ready right-handed defenseman who can keep a consistent spot in the lineup (Kris Letang and Justin Schultz.) Dougie Hamilton is right-handed, so his presence would likely help the Penguins in that respect. But obviously, that isn't enough reason to pursue. So let's dig deeper.

Thanks to Domenic Jr. Galamini and Corsica, we can see Hamilton's underlying numbers via the HERO chart.

Everything here, which encompasses not only this year's numbers, but weighted influences from the 2013-14 (22%), 2014-15 (33.3%), and 2015-16 (44.4%) seasons, suggests that Dougie Hamilton is a top four defenseman at worst. That is something that could benefit the Penguins in multiple ways. It also eases the workload for Kris Letang.

Kris Letang, without a doubt, is the most important player on the Pittsburgh Penguins. This is not to say he's the best -- almost objectively, Sidney Crosby is the best (in the entire league, no less) -- but allow me to define what I think "important" means, here.

If Marc-Andre Fleury is hurt, you have Matt Murray. In a different scenario, if Matt Murray is hurt, you have Marc-Andre Fleury. If Sidney Crosby is hurt, you have Evgeni Malkin. In a different scenario, if Evgeni Malkin is hurt, you still have Sidney Crosby.

If Kris Letang is hurt, the next best defenseman on the team (looking at Mike Sullivan's player usage) is Brian Dumoulin. This is not to knock Brian Dumoulin's skill, he's a great NHL defenseman. But...he pales in comparison to Letang (as does the rest of the team's defense.)

The drop-off from Letang to Hamilton, however? Not as drastic.

So, this creates this scenario: Lose Dougie Hamilton? You have Kris Letang. Lose Kris Letang? You have Dougie Hamilton.

Now that we've covered that Dougie Hamilton's added presence to the lineup would, most likely, benefit the would this happen? What could the Penguins possibly give up that would goad the Flames into making a deal?

First off, it could be argued that Calgary's deepest position is the blueline, so perhaps an Olli Maatta type could be given to replace Hamilton's immediate position in the lineup. In addition, there's always the thought of Fleury being included in something. Perhaps the deal would include Fleury going to Calgary, and Elliott coming back? This would solve the problem the Penguins face regarding Fleury, Murray, and the expansion draft. However, the Penguins aren't the only side to this deal; it needs to be a deal that the Flames also feel benefit themselves, not just the Pens.

I don't have a particular deal in mind, but these are pieces that could possibly be involved if there were to be one. 

Being that it was reported on Sportsnet, one would assume Hamilton would eventually hear about the rumors. And he did. Here's what he had to say, from this article on Sportsnet:

“"I saw it, for sure, Hamilton, 23, told the Calgary Sun. "You can't think too much into that stuff. Just try to keep playing hockey.

"It's part of the game. I think every deadline, every draft and all that stuff, there are always rumours. There are so many rumours and stuff, and I don't know how much of it is true or anything, right?"

"I'm happy here and I want to keep helping try to turn this around for the Flames, so I can't look into that stuff," Hamilton said. "It's just a distraction, if anything."

Though he leads Calgary D-men with six points, Hamilton ranks fifth in ice time among that group. He is a minus-9 and has committed 18 minutes in penalties through 16 games.”

It's all speculation, but it's speculation worth considering. I do feel that, like Ian Cole and Trevor Daley before him, Hamilton could find higher success with the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

What do you think? Should the Pens pursue? 

Thanks for reading!


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