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Flames sign Hamilton 6 year/34.5M contract, look to free agency

Dougie Hamilton, the uppity loner restricted free agent defenseman who clearly didn’t fit with the Boston Bruins for reasons that obviously had nothing to do with the Bruins, was signed by theCalgary Flames Tuesday to a reported six-year contract for $34.5 million.

I guess the Flames ignored the predictable Boston character assassinations of Hamilton after he was traded by Bruins and signed him anyway. This is probably good for Calgary, who now has a 6-foot-5, 22-year-old asset on its blueline for the next several seasons.

Said Calgary GM Brad Treliving on Hamilton via the Calgary Sun:

“I’m not going to comment on any anonymous people out there, but we’ve done our homework — thorough homework — both on the player and the person, and we are over-the-moon excited about the player and the person that we’re getting,” Treliving said. “We think he’s going to fit like a glove — on and off the ice — with us.

“This type of player doesn’t come around very often at this age. You’re talking about a very intelligent kid. He’s a 98% student. He won the scholastic award (in the Ontario Hockey League in 2011). I like that he’s a very cerebral kid. Smart. Intelligent.

“This doesn’t keep me awake at night. Since the day we got Dougie Hamilton, I’ve had the best sleeps of the past few years. I’ve slept like a baby.”

Last year Hamilton had 42 points and played 21:20, and he’s probably only going to improve. It’s smart of Treliving to boost his D, just in time for some Canadian wunderkind’s arrival in a provincial rival north of Calgary.

There were questions on Hamilton and whether a team would try to sign him to an offer sheet, which may have played into Boston’s thinking when it dealt Hamilton to the Flames on the day of the 2015 NHL Draft for a first round pick and two second rounders. If Hamilton had been signed to a deal that paid him between 5 milliion and $6.7 million annually Boston would have received a first, a second and a third round pick as compensation.

After a busy weekend in Florida at the National Hockey League draft, the work continued for Brad Treliving when he returned to his headquarters at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Calgary Flames general manager was working the phones ahead of Monday’s deadline to extend qualifying offers to 12 of his players, including newcomer Dougie Hamilton.

Also receiving qualifying offers — which allows the Flames to maintain their rights and open up negotiations — had been fellow restricted free agents Lance Bouma, Josh Jooris, Micheal Ferland, Paul Byron, Drew Shore, David Wolf, Bryce Van Brabant, Ken Agostino, Max Reinhart, Bill Arnold, and Turner Elson.

“I don’t think there’s any shocking news,” said Flames general manager Brad Treliving. “This is just part of the process. Those guys, their contracts expire and the next process is we qualify them to continue to work towards getting new contracts done.

“To me, it was more of a formality, rather than any news shattering information.”

Not tendered qualifying offers were Sena Acolatse (who played 38 games in one season with Calgary’s American Hockey League affiliate Adirondack Flames), Ben Hanowski (who had been part of the return for Jarome Iginla in 2013), and John Ramage (the Flames’ fourth-round selection in 2010) who become free agents July 1.

Monday’s news spoke for itself — if a player received a qualifying offer, the Flames want them in their organization.

Which was just about all Treliving would reveal.

“They’re all priorities,” he said. “But I’m boring as grass growing when I talk about contracts . . . we qualified them as per the protocol and continue to work on contracts for them. It’s a process that will continue.

“Until they’re done, we won’t have a whole lot to say with it.”

The Flames still have significant cap space before hitting the $71.4-million ceiling and a relatively low payroll heading into Wednesday’s free-agency kickoff. Only six teams sit under them: Washington, Winnipeg, New Jersey, Anaheim, Nashville, and Arizona. They have around $52.36 million tied up in their current active roster through 2015-16, an estimated cap hit of around $47.85 million (next season’s CBA-mandated lower limit is $52.8-million).

But that figure does not include the signing of Hamilton — which is likely to be a costly deal, at least based on reports out of Boston that claimed the 22-year-old defender to be interested in the Drew Doughty salary range ($7.1-million).

Or Bouma, who proved himself after signing a one-year pact last summer worth $775,000. He had a career year, scoring 16 goals and 18 assists in 78 games.

Both deals are clear priorities.

“I’d say, they’re all important pieces but Dougie and Lance, those are ones we’ve put in a lot of time with,” Treliving said. “With Dougie with us now, we’re banging away at it with (Hamilton’s agent) J.P. (Barry).”

However, the future is just as important as the present.

The Flames have to prepare for next summer’s negotiations with captain Mark Giordano, Lady Byng winner Jiri Hudler, and shot-blocking defenceman Kris Russell — all set to become UFAs at the end of next season — while Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan are RFAs. All of whom will, most definitely, require large portions of that salary cap.

That also applies to Wednesday’s NHL free-agent frenzy.

“We have some room for this coming season,” Treliving said. “But we take into consideration what happens after this year as well, so we want to be careful. We want to be careful in managing that.”

In addition to contract negotiations, Treliving and his staff will be busy evaluating the free-agent market over the next few days. The Flames also have unrestricted free agents to contemplate, including goaltenders Karri Ramo and Brad Thiessen, forwards Devin Setoguchi and Brian McGrattan, and defencemen David Schlemko, Raphael Diaz, Corey Potter, and Mark Cundari.

“Our day (Tuesday) is twofold,” Treliving said. “We’ve got players of our own we’re going to continue to work to sign. And then we have all our scouts in here, looking at deals that make sense for us — are there player signings out there?

That’s what we’re doing (Tuesday).”

And as for Wednesday?

“The idea with free agency is: are there ways to make your team better? And the second piece is, are there financial terms that fit? Both in dollar and term,” he said. “We’ll be active in making calls. Will be active in signing guys? I don’t know.”

Treliving said the Flames will “kick some tires” but “won’t be overly active” in terms of signing.

“We’ve got some depth needs that we’ll maybe take a look at in our minor-league system,” he said. “As far as our team in Calgary, there’s a couple of things we’re looking at but I can’t handicap it to say if we’re going to be active or not. We’re certainly not going to be the belle of the ball.

“We’ll look at some things and if it makes sense and fits, we may move. But I have learned that, in free agency, sometimes the dollar and the term you want sometimes changes.”

Coleton MacDonald
The Founder of Weliveforhockey.com
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