The price, Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving admitted, was steep.
But the purchase was worth it.
Treliving managed to reel in defenceman Dougie Hamilton hours before the start of the 2015 NHL Draft, flipping Calgary’s top pick (No. 15), alongside picks No. 45 and 53, to the Boston Bruins.
“Any time you’re doing a deal of this magnitude, there’s a lot of work that goes into it,” Treliving said. “Donnie’s a class man and did a real good job and got a real good deal for his team. It was a steep price. Any time you start talking about first round picks in a deep draft, multiple picks, I think Don [Sweeney] did himself and his team real well. For us, we’re looking at a recently turned 22 year old, right shot defenseman, 6-foot-5, who can move the puck, think, and skate, which we think are critical components in this game.
“I look at Donnie right now. He’s picking 13, 14, 15 and has three seconds. I get it. Those are good assets. We coveted this player and we were prepared to do it.”
Hamilton, the ninth pick in the 2011 NHL Draft by the Bruins, established new career highs and led all Bruins defencemen with 10 goals, 32 assists and 42 points this season.
Hamilton joins a defence that already boasts TJ Brodie, Dennis Wideman, Kris Russell, and captain Mark Giordano.
Giordano finished sixth in Norris voting after establishing new career highs in assists (37) and points (48), despite missing 21 games due to injury. Wideman’s 15 goals and 56 points were also career bests as the 32-year-old blueliner finished fourth in scoring amongst defencemen. Russell’s 283 shot blocks led the National Hockey League. Brodie set new career totals with 11 goals and 41 points, too.
It’s defence, Treliving declared, that wins.
“I look at our team right now with Giordano, Brodie, Russell, Wideman, (Deryk) Engelland, (Ladislav) Smid and adding Dougie Hamilton to that mix, I like that defence,” he said. “It’s critical to build your team from the defence side. You look at the playoffs, you look at the Stanley Cup Champions, you look at the Tampa Bay Lightning. They were playing in the Finals. As wide open as our game is, in today’s game, you need to defend you need to be able to exit your zone.
“When we looked at Dougie, this is an age group asset for us. This is a player that fits where we are going in Calgary. This is not a deviation in terms of the young players that we are building around. He adds to it. He’s in that peer group. The things that he does well. We talked about getting out of your own end. This player is able to retrieve pucks, exit the zone. His ability to deny entries, his ability to create offence with his passing, his legs, his ability to get shots on the net, we think this is a real good addition for us.”
The deal to acquire Hamilton came together quickly with both GM’s in close proximity.
But the foundation has been building for a while.
“We talked shortly after the season ended and we talked concepts,” Treliving said. “In recent days, it got going as we were in the same city. There was a push at the end. Looking at these deals, they are hard deals to make. There’s a lot of moving pieces. The last two to three days.
“This is a really good player that a lot of teams had interest in. You’re hopeful, but until you have the deal you don’t have the deal. When Don told me those words, I was pretty happy.”
The cost, though, steep, still leaves Calgary with six picks in the draft.
“We’ve still got a second round pick and six picks overall,” Treliving said. “Our cupboard is not bare. You’d like to have those scouts just not look at you with those faces right now, but we’ll try. We’re going to keep trying, but it’s tough to do that. We’ll see what we can do.
“We’re always looking, but it’s tough. We’ve still got some phone battery left, might as well use it and see if there is anything else out there.”