The NHL Draft is over.
But Brad Treliving and the Calgary Flames are still on the clock.
Amidst the buzz and excitement of acquiring Dougie Hamilton before the bell rang to kick off this year’s draft in Florida on Friday, the reality for the Flames is they had best ink Hamilton to a contract before Wednesday, when he officially becomes a restricted free agent.
The threat of a rival squad signing the rising star defenceman to an offer sheet isn’t as pressing as it was when Hamilton was Boston Bruins property, but it does still exist.
The Flames are cognizant of it and would match any offer — which would save on time spent negotiating — but it would likely cost them more.
So negotiations are a front-burner item, even Saturday evening for Flames GM Brad Treliving.
Hamilton’s agent, JP Barry said Saturday afternoon via email: “I plan on starting talks with Brad today in Florida regarding Dougie after the draft. We met post-draft and plan to meet again this weekend.”
Treliving, who knew what Hamilton was looking for before pulling the trigger on the trade, was even more closed-mouth: “We’ll keep working at it. We’ll bang away with it and see where we get to.”
Bold prediction time: They’ll get to a new deal by Tuesday, a long-term pact — maybe the longest among any player on the team — and for an average salary north of the US$5.5 million per season that’s been reported as the asking price from Hamilton and his camp.
Even after surrendering his team’s first-round draft choice and a pair of second-round selections to reel in Hamilton, Treliving did push to gain another pick in the first round. “I offered a kidney and two ribs and that didn’t get it done. There was nothing close,” Treliving quipped. Considering his team’s collateral at that time was the No. 53 pick and then a couple of third-round selections, it’s easy to see why Treliving wouldn’t get another top-30 selection … The fact the Flames could get away with adding only five draft picks — albeit, along with Hamilton — sure speaks to how far they have come in adding legitimate prospects the past few years. They couldn’t have afforded to do that two years ago … Also on the to-do list: filing the qualifying offers for the Flames’ 15 restricted free agents, ranging from the high-priority NHLers in Hamilton and Lance Bouma to the likes of Micheal Ferland and Josh Jooris to others in the minors. Gotta think they may not keep one or two in the fold, opting to let them walk instead … I may be alone in this, but second-round pick Oliver Kylington sounds a lot like former Flames winger Sven Baertschi. Listen for it next time you hear him in an interview.
The focus on the draft was to add potential top-pairing, skilled defencemen, but the Flames made some other enticing selections. Fifth-rounder Pavel Karnaukhov of the Calgary Hitmen is a blend of size (6-foot-2) and skill (20 goals, 42 points) as a left-winger. “It’s a good feeling because I would like to stay in Calgary,” Karnaukhov said on the Flames website. “And to play for the Calgary Hitmen and the Calgary Flames is probably the best for me.”
With their seventh-round pick, the Flames chose Riley Bruce of the OHL’s North Bay Battalion is an imposing blueliner. He’s a project being 6-foot-6, although he’s no goon, simply a defensive defenceman. The one who piques my interest is left-winger Andrew Mangiapane, who racked up 43 goals and 104 points in his 19-year-old season for the OHL’s Barrie Colts. Sure, his size may be an issue, but he could be a Paul Byron-type player or even Andrew Cogliano, capable of being in the top-six when needed but also a bottom-six buzzsaw. You don’t find the next Tyler Johnson without giving a kid a shot … Treliving says he was “not close” to swinging any more trades, but it’ll be interesting in the coming days whether the club makes a push for a right-winger either by trade or free-agency. It’s a definite hole in the roster despite the number legitimate NHLers … Thinking back to the Hamilton trade, it still seems surprising the Flames didn’t have to surrender a prospect or a young player who skated in NHL games last season.