Skip to main content

Bruins defenceman Dougie Hamilton celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal during overtime against the Winnipeg Jets at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston.Bob DeChiara

Just about everyone who follows the Calgary Flames closely knew how disappointed they were when one of the NHL's prize young defencemen, Tyler Myers, ended up in Winnipeg earlier this year. Flames' general manager Brad Treliving was in there, pitching hard on Myers, because he knows the value of big, young, mobile defencemen.

With Myers off the market, Treliving turned his attention to the Boston Bruins, who are in the process of paring their payroll, and landed an equally big fish – six-foot-five defenceman Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton, a restricted free agent, will need to be signed to an expensive second contract, probably one of the reasons the cash-strapped Bruins were willing to trade him.

In exchange, the Flames surrendered a first and two second-round draft picks in order to get the deal done which – considering the alternatives – was not an especially steep price to pay.

Hamilton, just turned 22, has three full NHL seasons under his belt. He was originally drafted ninth overall in the 2011 NHL entry draft, one of two first-rounders that Boston acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Phil Kessel trade.

Curiously, the Maple Leafs GM at the time of the Kessel trade is now Treliving's boss in Calgary, president of Flames' hockey operations Brian Burke.

With Hamilton, the Flames bolster a blueline that features team captain Mark Giordano, a Norris Trophy candidate this past season, younger players T.J. Brodie and Kris Russell, and veterans Dennis Wideman and Deryk Engelland. It now approaches the New York Rangers among the deepest defence corps in the league.

"I like that defence," Treliving said. "It's critical to build your team from the defence out. If you look at the playoffs and the Stanley Cup championship, as wide open as our game is today, you need to be able to defend and you need to be able to exit your zone."

The Flames have been adamant that their primary goal right now is adding young players to grow with a nucleus that includes Sean Monahan, Sam Bennett and Johnny Gaudreau. Hamilton is what Treliving called an "age-group asset, a player who fits where we're going in Calgary. This is not a deviation in terms of the young players were building around. To me, he adds to it. He's in that peer group.

"The things he does well – he's able to go back and retrieve pucks and exit the zone. He has the ability to deny entries. He has the ability to create offence. We think this is a real good addition for us."

This past season, Hamilton produced 42 points in 72 games on a comparatively low-scoring Bruins' team. The Flames have a lot of salary-cap space available, but it will be gobbled up by Hamilton and Giordano, who has a year to go on his current below-market contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Treliving's plan was to speak to Hamilton's agent, J.P. Barry of CAA Sports, at some point Friday night, but said he's got an idea of what signing Hamilton will cost from talking to Bruins' general manager Don Sweeney, and believes he can make the dollars work.

Oilers' general manager Peter Chiarelli also made a concerted push to land Hamilton, reportedly offering a nearly comparable package to Calgary's. Edmonton had the 16th, 33rd and 57th picks to offer. Calgary got the deal done for the 15th, 45th and 52nd picks. The first two were their own choices; the third was acquired from the Washington Capitals at the deadline in exchange for Curtis Glencross. Calgary retains one second-round pick – the 53rd overall selection, acquired from the Vancouver Canucks in March for prospect Sven Baertschi. At the time of the deals, Treliving noted that the additional second-rounders could be used as currency to make a future deal and he did.

The fact that Treliving didn't have to give up a player off his roster made the trade more attractive. It's difficult to imagine the Bruins wouldn't at least have inquired about the availability of the Calder Trophy finalist, Gaudreau, who played his college hockey in Boston.

Treliving has a long relationship with Sweeney; both bided their times as assistant general managers before moving up the ladder, Treliving last year, Sweeney just a few weeks ago. Sometimes, the NHL trading game is all about relationships and trust.

"Like any of these deals, they're hard deals to make," Treliving said. "There's a lot of moving pieces. You never know. This is a good player who a lot of teams had interest in. You're hopeful, but until you know you have a deal, you don't have a deal. So when Donnie told me those words, we were pretty happy."