The Leafs Should Target Dougie Hamilton

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

It was way back in November when the Calgary Flames' president, Brian Burke, and GM, Brad Treliving, denied the rumours of them wanting to trade defenceman Dougie Hamilton. I know this was discussed at that time, but I still think it's worth looking at now.

It's been over half a year since then, and the Flames have acquired two "top 4" defencemen (in terms of offensive production at least) in Michael Stone and Travis Hamonic--both naturally right side. Calgary's right defensive side is currently comprised of Hamilton, Hamonic, Stone, Mark Bartkowski, and top prospect Rasmus Andersson. Their left side however, is much shallower, with just Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, recent Ohio State University graduate and 23-year-old Josh Healey, 23-year-old "prospect" Brett Kulak, Tyler Wotherspoon, and prized prospect Oliver Kylington. That leaves us Hamilton, Hamonic, and Stone on the right side as, and considering the Flames are paying Stone among the top 95 defenders (from CapFriendly) I believe they see him as a "top 4" piece. That's not to say that every d-man in that salary range is a top-4, it's just that most of those players are paid and played like one.

Although hated by the analytics community, Stone is only one season removed from a career high season in goals (6), assists (30), and points (36). That many points while being known as a "shutdown defenseman" is pretty great, and definitely top-4 territory. Personally, I believe the Flames would like to play Stone in their top-4, although I'm no Flames fan so don't take my word for it, and I'm certain among their prospects and/or veterans they can fill out the top-6 comfortably whilst still having considerable depth. Travis Hamonic could play on the top shutdown pair with Mark Giordano, and Brodie-Stone would be the second pairing with two of Kulak, Healey, Bartkowski, Kylington, and Andersson filling out the bottom pairing. Hence, I think if the right offer came around the Flames would be willing to trade Hamilton. Also, the fact that the Flames are weak at forward, makes trading Hamilton for a big return all the more enticing to them.

Moving on, why should Hamilton be a target for the Leafs? Is he really that good? If so, how? Why?

Yes, he really is that good, almost by every metric. Beginning with production, this past season Hamilton scored a career high 50 points in 81 games, which ranks in the top-10 for NHL defencemen. Furthermore, using the Stats.HockeyAnalysis website, filtering the situation stats to 5v5 ZoneStart Adjusted, 750 minutes played, the type of report being "Individual Stats", and the position being Defensemen, you can see that Hamilton ranks second in Points/60 at 5v5 with 1.72, behind only Brent Burns by 0.01. Even without adjusting for zone starts, Hamilton is second among dmen, but the gap between him and Burns is slightly larger.

Using the same filters, except the report being "On-ice Goal Stats", Hamilton ranks 22nd in GoalsFor % among names such as Duncan Keith, Nathan Bealieu, Matt Dumba, and Jaccob Slavin. His GF % relative to his teammates ranks 9th among Brett Pesce and Shea Weber. Changing the report to "On-ice Shot Stats", Hamilton ranks second in ShotsFor % and SF% relative to his teammates behind only analytics darling Hampus Lindholm. Using "On-ice Corsi Stats", Hamilton ranks third in CorsiFor % behind Drew Doughty and Torey Krug. He ranks first in CF% relative to teammates. He also ranks second in FenwickFor % and first in FF% relative to teammates. Furthermore, using Dom Luszczyszyn's model of Game Score, Hamilton ranks in the top-10 in defencemen. Additionally, using Dom Galimini's HERO charts Hamilton comfortably passes as a #1 defender.

Goals above replacement are a bit more skeptical, though--using charts made by Sean Tierney (GAR data by @DTMAboutHeart) Hamilton barely cracks the top 150 in defencemen (!) He ranks very badly in even-strength defense according to GAR, whereas his even strength offense is still elite. Putting this aside: using his With Or Without You stats from Stats.HockeyAnalysis you can see that pretty much all of his teammates perform better in terms of CF% with him, rather than without him. As well, a large majority of his teammates sport a better GF% with him, rather than without.

The final thing I'll be looking at is zone starts and who Hamilton plays with. According to Dobber Hockey, Hamilton spent 77.5% of his time at even strength with Giordano, and rightfully so, he scored 74.3% of his even-strength points with Giordano. But, who was the one driving the pairing? WOWY numbers show that together they had a CF% of 56.9 and GF% of 70.0(!); Giordano away from Hamilton was 47.2 and 52.0; Hamilton away from Giordano was 52.6 and 37.5(!). Although a small sample size, Hamilton gave up way more goals against when he wasn't paired with Giordano, which drove down his GF%. Personally, I believe this had something to do with bad luck considering his CF% was still really good without Giordano, and he still performed great in terms of GF% away from other teammates. Now was he, or were they as a pairing, sheltered? Together they started 31.8% of their faceoffs in the offensive zone, 33.6% in the defensive zone, and 34.6% in the neutral zone (using WOWY numbers). An interesting thing to note is that Hamilton faced tougher zone starts without Giordano. Likewise, Giordano got easier starts without Hamilton. All in all, they were not sheltered together, but they were not matched up the way the shutdown line of Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik, and Matthew Tkachuk was (aprox. 25% offensive zone start).

You're probably thinking, if he's so good why would the Flames trade him? They *probably* wouldn't, but just like how it should be with Colton Parayko and Jacob Trouba, the Leafs need to give it their best shot and see if Calgary gives in. What would the price be for a top-pairing, right-handed, young defensemen signed for 4 more years at a reasonable 5.75 million? Probably not as little as he went for when Boston traded him to Calgary for two second rounders and a first. I'm not going to try and predict his price, but even if it costs the Leafs a couple of firsts+ or multiple roster players (JVR and Bozak), I still think it's worth it. Also, considering Calgary needs help up front, I think JVR and/or Bozak would be very intriguing to shore up the depth at each of those positions.

In conclusion, Dougie Hamilton's stats summarized:

Stat: Rank Teammates Improved (CF%) Teammates Improved (GF%)
5v5 P/60 2nd
Points top-10
GoalsFor% 22nd
RelGF% 9th
CorsiFor% 3rd
RelCF% 1st
ShotsFor% 2nd
RelSF% 2nd
FenwickFor% 2nd
RelFF% 1st
Game Score top-10
HERO Chart top-30
GAR top-150
WOWY 30/33 17/26 is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of