Raleigh, NC -- The Dougie Hamilton era in Carolina has come to an end. The 28-year-old defenceman signed a seven-year, $63m contract with New Jersey today.
Hamilton arrived in Carolina three years ago as the centerpiece of the Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm, and Michael Ferland trade with Calgary.
In Raleigh, Hamilton thrived in Rod Brind'Amour's system that utilizes pinching defencemen and covering forwards. It also helped that Hamilton was paired with Jaccob Slavin--one of the league's best defensive defencemen.
Slavin expressed his interest in keeping his defensive partner in Raleigh. "I want him back," Slavin said after the Hurricanes were knocked out of this year's playoffs by eventual winners, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
However, Slavin will now need to find a different partner, likely Brett Pesce, who remains under contract with the Canes.
The loss of Hamilton, who finished fifth in this year's voting for the Norris Trophy as the league's best defenceman, is a serious one. And it will lead to questions for Carolina General Manager Don Waddell and owner Tom Dundon.
Sara Civian of The Athletic reported that Carolina's final offer for Hamilton was an eight-year, $6.2m extension--totaling $50m. Considering his new contract pays him $9m/year, Carolina's $6.2m/year offer seems below market, to put it mildly.
"We had lots of talks with his representation, and we just couldn't get to where they felt he needed to be," Canes GM Don Waddell said on Wednesday afternoon. "In a salary cap world, you want to make sure you spend your money wisely...He earned the right to be a free agent; he wanted to seek what the market was, and he's going to get his [new] contract very soon."
It would be fair to say that Carolina's front office was more than ok with allowing Hamilton to walk away, with nothing in return (not even a draft pick).
Undoubtedly, it is a bold strategy to let one of the best defensemen in recent franchise history walk out the door. Will it go down as a savvy move or an unforced error?
Only time will tell.
Canes Add Defencemen After Hamilton's Departure
With Hamilton gone, the blue-line repair work began.
Losing Dougie Hamilton meant Carolina had only one RD on the NHL roster--Brett Pesce.
That facilitated a number of moves for the Canes, starting with a trade between Edmonton and Carolina.
Carolina sent Warren Foegele to Edmonton in exchange for Ethan Bear, a 24-year-old RD with one year left on his $2m/year contract.
Official Press Release from Hurricanes:
"RALEIGH, NC - Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has acquired defenseman Ethan Bear from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for forward Warren Foegele.
"Ethan is a young, right-shot defenseman with offensive upside," said Waddell. "We're excited to add him to our team as he continues to grow as an NHL player."
Bear, 24, registered eight points (2g, 6a) in 43 games with the Oilers in 2020-21. The 5'11", 197-pound blueliner has tallied 33 points (8g, 25a) in 132 career NHL games, all with Edmonton. He skated in 89 American Hockey League games over two seasons with Bakersfield from 2017-19, earning 49 points (12g, 37a). Bear posted 192 points (66g, 126a) in 264 Western Hockey League games with Seattle from 2013-17. He has represented Canada internationally at the 2015 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in 2015, winning bronze. The Regina, Sask., native was selected by the Oilers in the fifth round, 124th overall of the 2015 NHL Draft."
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