A few weeks ago, the folks from Matchsticks and Gasoline asked us for our view on what they were getting by hiring Bill Peters. In the aftermath of the blockbuster deal between the Hurricanes and Flames at the NHL Draft this past weekend, we decided to return the favor.
To try to get a sense on what the Hurricanes now have with Dougie Hamilton and Micheal Ferland on the roster, we posed a few questions to the M&G crew, and Mike MacGillivray was kind enough to answer. What can you expect from the new guys? Read on to find out.
CC: There have been some rumblings that Hamilton was miffed to not be included on the Flames’ top power play unit. Why was he not used there? Did he not fit well with the other players on the top unit, or was it more just ineffectiveness, or something else?
M&G: Hamilton had every right to be miffed last year to not be put on the top power play unit. The powerplay was horribly managed by Dave Cameron and Glen Gulutzan and it’s probably why neither of them are still with the Flames. Hamilton was the Flames’ most dangerous defenseman when it came to the power play, so the fact that it took over 50 games to get him on the top unit was ridiculous. Upon being put on the top PP unit, there was immediate improvement for a stretch of about 10 games before the whole team hit a goal-scoring wall late in the season. Hamilton not being on the top unit of an otherwise ineffective power play early in the season is a big reason why Calgary ended up missing the playoffs. Why our old coaching staff thought Troy Brouwer (and his six goals) was a better PP option than Hamilton is something we’ll never know.
CC: The insinuation from some, apart from the “museum” quote (which is totally going to be to Calgary as Ilya Bryzgalov’s parks quote is to Winnipeg) is that losing didn’t bother Hamilton as much as some felt it should. Do you chalk that up to disenchantment with a team going nowhere, or is it more of a mindset thing with him?
M&G: It’s pretty hard to know exactly what’s going with a player or inside the dressing room, but with all that’s come out, something was definitely wrong. The whole team seemed to have a major lack of chemistry last season, and there seemed to be a disconnect between the coaching staff and players as the season dragged on. It is very much worth noting that Hamilton has pushed both the Bruins and Flames to acquire his brother Freddie Hamilton and the Flames ended up waiving Freddie in January, something Dougie became openly upset about and probably only got worse as the season continued.
CC: Is Hamilton at the peak of his career right now? If not, how much higher could he go in the right situation?
M&G: Hamilton and Mark Giordano have had two fantastic years together as one of the best pairings in the league, both statistically and by the eye test. I think Hamilton can still take some major strides forward as he’s only 25 years old. He ranked second in our Top 25 Under 25 rankings last year; incidentally, Adam Fox ranked #6, and would have moved up to probably #4 this year with Hamilton aging out of the list. Hamilton did have struggles in the defensive zone last year as he rarely used his size to take the body, but he also took a lot of bad penalties. Points-wise, if used correctly and paired with the right partner, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Hamilton come close to 60 points, maybe even more. I don’t think he ever comes close to the Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns level of points production, but he isn’t much further down.
CC: Same question as above, but for Ferland. Last season was the best of his career. Was that a high water mark, or is it replicable in years to come?
M&G: Personally I think this year was a career year for Ferland. Coming into the off-season, I had wanted the Flames to consider trading him just because he had such a break-out year last year and will be an expensive re-signing next offseason. It is worth noting that 19 of Ferland’s goals came in the first 45 games of the season, before he was completely unnoticeable with just two goals the rest of the year. My biggest question about Ferland is “Which Ferland is he?” Now it’ll be the Hurricanes who find out.
CC: Do you know why the Flames were having trouble signing Adam Fox? Was it more an issue with the team itself, or him just wanting to stay in college irrespective of who held his rights?
M&G: There were minor rumblings here and there that Fox was unlikely to sign in Calgary prior to this trade, but it has come out from Treliving since the trade that there were serious doubts on if he would sign. I could understand why Fox didn’t want to sign here simply because of the logjam of prospects and current players on the Flames D corps, but it may have just been that he didn’t want to play in Calgary either. Either way, the Hurricanes got one heck of a defensive prospect moving forward.
Thanks to Mike for giving us some insight, and you can head over to Matchsticks and Gasoline for more about the trade...including the distinct possibility that one of these types of articles might grace their own site later this week.