Best defence in the league? Brad Treliving is sure doing his best to bestow that title upon his Calgary Flames.
Before teams had even set up shop in the BB&T centre in preparation of day one of the 2015 Entry Draft the Calgary Flames had already made significant noise. They flipped their first-round pick in the 2015 draft as well as two second-round picks to the Boston Bruins to acquire 22-year-old defenceman Dougie Hamilton.
Despite giving up three draft picks to acquire Hamilton, the sacrifice was worth it given the fact the Flames were poised to enter the draft with eight picks – with multiple coming in the second round alone. Hamilton also fits the bill of a player after Brian Burke’s heart – 6’5” and 212 lbs. – doesn’t hurt, either.
The trade adds to what was already a productive blue line last season, even without Mark Giordano. The Flames had three d-men – Giordano, Dennis Wideman and TJ Brodie – score over 40 points, with Kris Russell falling just short at 34 points. Overall, the Flames had the best point production from defencemen of any team last season and it just got better.
Since coming into the league in 2012-13 Hamilton’s offensive production has increased annually. In his rookie season he had 16 points, followed by 25 the season after and 42 last season. In addition to offense, Hamilton adds an element of physicality on the back end, bringing his 238 career hits to a team that ranked bottom third in the league in that category last season.
Of course, before Flames fans can start buying their Hamilton jerseys, Treliving has some business to take care of. Hamilton is a restricted free agent and in need of a contract, but it looks as though locking him up won’t be a problem as talks of an extension have already begun.
Considering the magnitude of the trade, the draft itself – the main attraction of the weekend – became almost the hidden lead. The Flames used their five remaining picks to select three defencemen and two left wingers.
The defencemen were as follows: Rasmus Andersson (53rd), an offensive defenceman with the Barrie Colts who has a bit of a mean streak; Oliver Kylington (60th), a two-way defender in the Swedish leagues with the potential to be an offensive weapon; and Riley Bruce (196th), a defensive defenceman on the North Bay Battalion who stands 6’6” and weighs around 200 lbs.
Up front the Flames selected Pavel Karnaukhov (136th), the Calgary Hitmen forward who had 42 points in 69 games in his first season with the team; and Andrew Mangiapane (166th), the high-scoring teammate of Andersson whose size may have been a drawback for Calgary (he stands just 5’10” and weighs only 170 lbs. as a 19-year-old).
The next item on the summer agenda for the Flames – and the rest of the league – is free agent frenzy, which kicks off in full force July 1st.