It’s one of the worst kept secrets in the world that the Boston Bruins are in trouble with the salary cap. They have $62.85M committed to nine forwards, four defensemen and one goalie.
That leaves them with a little over $12M in salary cap space once Marc Savard is placed on LTIR at the beginning of the season.
They have two major RFAs that need re-signing: Brett Connolly, and more importantly, Dougie Hamilton. Considering the lack of cap space the Bruins have to fill out their roster, some have speculated that Hamilton could be on the way out because of their inability to meet his salary demands.
Trade interest in Boston's Dougie Hamilton is significant. Some see the Bruins offering Hamilton to Ariz for #3 pick. So much speculation.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 26, 2015
Hamilton is drumming up interest for good reason. He’s a 6’5″, two-way defenseman that can skate like the wind, and put up 42 points as a 21 year old in the NHL. To put that into perspective, only five defensemen since 2000-01 have scored more points than Hamilton in a season as a 21 year old or younger.
Their names? Erik Karlsson, Drew Doughty, Alex Pietrangelo, Tyler Myers, and Dion Phaneuf.
Three of those are stud #1s that are among the best defensemen in the league. Myers has struggled with consistency, but appears to have found his game with a change of scenery in Winnipeg. For all the flak that Phaneuf gets these days, he was one of the best defensemen in the NHL years ago.
Hamilton is destined for stardom, and should be the last person the Bruins are looking to move.
A Proven Commodity for a Question Mark
The deal being thrown around would be Hamilton being sent to Arizona in exchange for the #3 pick. The assumption is that the Bruins would use that pick to select local Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin, who would be groomed as the Bruins’ future #1 in place of Hamilton.
This logic is asinine. If we are talking about Victor Hedman or Aaron Ekblad when they were being drafted, a proposal like this may have some merit. They were both lauded as can’t-miss, future stud #1 defensemen, and in their careers so far, they look to be just that.
Noah Hanifin is not that type of prospect. He’s a great prospect that likely projects as a top pairing defenseman, but is far from a sure thing.
Hamilton is already a sure-fire top pairing defenseman that in all likelihood takes a step into being a legitimate #1 as early as next season.
Some people don’t even believe Hanifin is the best defenseman in this draft. TSN Analyst Craig Button has Hanifin ranked 12th overall in this draft, third among defensemen. In addition, some of the teams looking to move up to #3 might take Provorov ahead of Hanifin.
Most of the teams interested in getting the No. 3 pick want it to draft a D, either Noah Hanifin or Ivan Provorov.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 26, 2015
The Flyers reportedly have Provorov as the top defenseman on the board, and 3rd overall behind McDavid and Eichel.
— Philly.com Sports (@phillysport) June 24, 2015
Hamilton is already a top pairing defenseman that will be a #1 soon. Hanifin might be one some day. Proven players are a much better bet than a projection.
What Boston Should Do Instead
The correct course of action for Bruins’ GM Don Sweeney to take is to dump salary in order to pay Hamilton the money he deserves. A popular name has been Milan Lucic, whose $6M/year cap hit would open up a nice chunk of change to pay Hamilton and fill out the rest of the roster.
Combine the fact that Lucic has started to fall out of favor in Boston a bit and he’ll be a free agent after next season, and you have target #1. A few more targets that could be moved are Brad Marchand ($4.5M), Loui Eriksson ($4.25M), and Reilly Smith ($3.425M). All of the above would be a better option to move instead of Hamilton.
Even if the team has to accept a sub-par return because of their lack of bargaining power, it’s better than letting Hamilton leave.
A future Bruins’ roster without one of the above forwards is still a very solid squad. A Bruins roster in the future without Dougie Hamilton (even with Noah Hanifin), looks like a train-wreck. Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg are both on the decline, and Johnny Boychuk was erroneously traded to the Islanders.
The Bruins two best defensive prospects, Joe Morrow and Matt Grzelcyk, project as 2nd pairing defensemen at best. The Bruins will likely add a quality defensive prospect with the 14th or 37th pick this year, but they would not fill the void that Hamilton would leave.