The Carolina Hurricanes were involved in a number of trade rumors over the draft weekend in Dallas, Texas, and after a quiet Friday night, the fireworks finally went off on Saturday.
New general manager Don Waddell and his round table of hockey minds agreed to trade RFAs Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin to the Calgary Flames in exchange for defensemen Dougie Hamilton and Adam Fox and forward Micheal Ferlund.
This one is a doozie...
Over the past couple of days, Lindholm and Hanifin’s names have been more in the news. Lindholm’s agent met with the Hurricanes on Friday but, according to reports, those talks did not go well. Don Waddell said on Thursday that the team was trying to re-sign Hanifin, but clearly those discussions also didn’t go as planned.
So, the Canes felt like they had to get value out of the two players, and based on the return for Carolina, that’s exactly what they did.
The big name coming back to the Hurricanes is defenseman Dougie Hamilton, a 6’6” right-handed defenseman who has turned into a dominant offensive threat on the blue line over his six-year NHL career.
An original first round pick (ninth overall in 2011) of the Boston Bruins, Hamilton has notched 10+ goals and 40+ points in each of the past four seasons, including a career-high 17 goals last season and 50 points two seasons ago. He’s also under a good contract, a $5.75 million cap hit through the 2020-21 season.
Since the Canes don’t appear to be done, it’s tough to say who Hamilton projects to line up with. One would think that Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce are a safe bet to stay together entering the season, unless the thought of Slavin and Hamilton on the ice together is too much to resist (which it very well could be).
Here’s a nice little fun fact about Hamilton:
Hamilton's 17 goals last year matched Lindholm's career high from 2015.— Corey Sznajder (@ShutdownLine) June 23, 2018
One knock against Hamilton is that he is said to be an iffy locker room guy. Only time will tell if that rumor starts popping up for him again in Raleigh.
Rob Kerr of Sportsnet 960 radio in Calgary told Canes Country that Hamilton’s ceiling is very high, but he’s been unable to put it all together in his four years with the Flames, and it will be up to Rod Brind’Amour and his coaching staff to get out of Hamilton what Glen Gulutzan and, before him, Bob Hartley never could.
“He’s a very skilled defenseman, and he has to determine how good he wants to be. If Dougie Hamilton ever decides he wanted to play, boy, he can really take a game over,” says Kerr. “I’ve seen the kid absolutely dominate hockey games, singlehandedly win hockey games late in a tied situation. He and Mark Giordano were a terrific pair, maybe one of the best defense pairs in the Western Conference on a team that didn’t make the playoffs.”
Micheal Ferland is coming off of a career year, logging 41 points and 21 goals for the Flames. He benefitted from playing with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, so he might not be that kind of point producer in Carolina, but he is a big, intimidating force that goes to the net consistently. He’ll be a good fit under Rod Brind’Amour and should slot in well in the middle of the forward depth chart and on the special teams. He brings some “grit” that the Canes could certainly benefit from. He will be a UFA after next season and he currently carries a $1.75 million cap hit.
Kerr’s analysis of Ferland is very similar to that of Hamilton. A late bloomer who didn’t start playing organized hockey until he was in his mid-teens, Ferland has lots of skill and has shown it in tantalizingly rare occasions over the years. “I think he has a lot of potential to be a top-six forward,” says Kerr. “Last year he had a stretch of about two months where he looked like a dominant right winger. He can be physical, and he has more skill than you think he has, a very elusive shot.
“He, like many young players, has consistency issues. He battled some injuries last year, and that kind of set him back. I wish I could say in five years I knew exactly what he’s going to be, but I don’t. There are times where you think he’s really going to blossom, and then there are times where you go ‘where has he been for a while?’ I’ll be real curious to see how Rod Brind’Amour uses him.”
Adam Fox is the wild card here for Carolina. The smaller (5’11”, 181 pounds) defenseman was a third-round pick of the Flames back in 2016 and has since rocketed up the prospect rankings. He’s now a near consensus top-25 prospect across all of hockey. He did that by putting together two big years for Harvard (68 points in 64 games). He is a right-shot guy with a lot of offensive potential. He plans to go back to Harvard for one more year before turning pro.
Hurricanes scouting director Tony MacDonald told Canes Country that Fox was a player who was in the Hurricanes’ sights when he was selected in the third round by Calgary in 2015. “I don’t think he’s too far out from being able to contribute,” MacDonald said. “He’s the kind of defenseman that everyone's looking for in today’s game. He’s a puck mover, a power-play guy, he’s smart and very skilled. He’s quick to the puck and can join the rush, he can push the pace, he controls shifts when he’s out there. Lots of offensive dimensions, but he can defend also.”
The Flames had trouble signing him, which could have contributed to their reason to trade him, so only time will tell if those same problems will hurt the Hurricanes. That said, it shouldn’t be a concern right now. There’s lots of time to figure that out.
Losing Lindholm and Hanifin hurts. Lindholm is a great second-line player who can play all over the ice, and he’ll be a good fit for the Flames and his number could inflate if he does play with Gaudreau and Monahan. Lindholm is a player that Bill Peters always loved in Carolina, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to see him involved here.
Hanifin has all the potential in the world, but he had his fair share of ups and downs through three seasons in Carolina. He still posses big-time upside, but only time will tell if he reaches that potential. If he does, he’ll have to do it under Peters (again), in Calgary.
The Hurricanes got the best player in this trade - Dougie Hamilton. He’s a prime-aged star defenseman who fills the net with goals and has excellent offensive ability. He’s the powerplay quarterback that the Canes needed, and he should be a great fit for the Canes.
If we’re breaking it down further, the Canes practically traded Hanifin’s potential for a defenseman who is already a stud. Even if Hanifin develops further, it’s no guarantee that he’ll ever turn into the defenseman that Hamilton is right now.
Additionally, they moved Lindholm for a player in Ferland who will slot into a somewhat similar role in the middle of the lineup. While Ferland might not have quite the same offensive upside as Lindholm, he does bring a heavy physical presence. And, for what you lose in offensive potential from Lindholm to Ferland, you get back (and then some) with Adam Fox, who has huge upside as an offensive defenseman. They just have to get him signed after his junior year at Harvard. Fox is a massive bonus for the Canes in this trade.
Ultimately, they got what they needed from this trade. In addition, they got a prospect that could be an impact player in Raleigh as soon as the 2019-20 season.
When the Canes’ brass hops on their plane out of Dallas, they will do so with Andrei Svechnikov, Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland, Adam Fox, and a plethora of draft prospects in their possession.
That’s a pretty good weekend, I’d say.