Dougie Hamilton is the middle of his best offensive season for the Carolina Hurricanes. Do the Boston Bruins regret his trade five years later?
To paraphrase the popular song from The Lego Movie, everything was awesome when the Boston Bruins drafted Dougie Hamilton with the ninth overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup not even two months before, and now they drafted their future franchise defenseman.
Hamilton proceeded to have three solid seasons in Boston, and for the most part he lived up to his lofty expectations. That’s why we were caught off guard when the Bruins dealt him to Calgary after the 2014-2015 season.
Many questioned the trade at the time, mainly because Boston gave up a young, quality defenseman for draft picks. However, almost five years after the trade, do the Bruins miss Hamilton? No. Have they ever missed him? No.
Trust me here: this comes from a guy who used to have Hamilton as his Twitter photo.
Before we delve into some analysis, we must realize that the Bruins really had no choice but to trade Hamilton.
He was a restricted free agent at the time, and although Boston controlled his future, he gave every indication he wanted to play somewhere else. The Bruins offered him three different contract structures, and he and his agent never even countered.
New GM Don Sweeney was hamstrung right before the draft, so he had to trade Hamilton for picks. What teams would give up roster players when they could sign Hamilton to an offer sheet?
For the sake or argument, let’s assume the Bruins could re-sign Hamilton. Even then, they still wouldn’t miss him right now.
Hamilton’s a talented offensive defenseman. Nobody ever questioned that. He’s currently in the midst of his most productive season with 28 points in 27 games. Any team would love to have somebody on the backend who averages over a point per game.
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That type of production doesn’t totally make up for Hamilton’s deficiencies in his own zone. He’s not bad defensively, but he’s not good enough to be a true top-pair defenseman. His advanced stats are okay, but that’s because he gets offensive-zone starts and doesn’t face the toughest matchups.
Plus, Hamilton is not one who typically engaged physically. Remember last year in the playoffs when Hamilton avoided contact when Alexander Ovechkin?
Add all this up, and it’s no wonder Hamilton isn’t even top four on his team for defensemen in average shorthanded time on ice.
Speaking of special teams, 10 of Hamilton’s 28 points came on the power play this year. That’s over a third of his production. No way would he have those numbers in Boston with Torey Krug on the roster. Hamilton would line up on the second unit, not the first.
McAvoy can’t find his offense this year, but he still projects to be a better all-around defenseman than Hamilton. And Carlo, given his defensive strengths, is a better fit underneath McAvoy on that second pair.
That means even if Hamilton were in Boston, he wouldn’t see the ice time that he sees now in Carolina. Now of course, maybe the Bruins don’t draft McAvoy or Carlo if they re-signed Hamilton. He’d have a spot in the lineup, but that doesn’t mean Boston would be better off with Hamilton instead of McAvoy or Carlo.
To recap, Hamilton’s great offensively, but this doesn’t quite make up for his defensive issues. He never really developed into the two-way stud many thought the Bruins drafted and eventually traded away.
On top of that, the Bruins currently have two younger right-shot defensemen who are better fits on the roster than Hamilton. McAvoy has more upside, and Carlo is better defensively.
What does all this mean? The Bruins don’t regret the Hamilton trade. That doesn’t mean they got fair or equal value in return, but Boston certainly doesn’t miss Hamilton in the lineup.