SUNRISE, FL -- It’s a good problem to have, insisted Bob Hartley.
In fact, the Calgary Flames coach doesn’t see managing the minutes of his blue line after the addition of Dougie Hamilton to his lineup as a problem at all.
“Abundance of talent is never a problem,” Hartley told CalgaryFlames.com. “It might cause us a few extra grey hairs every once in a while when giving responsibilities, but I think it will bring great competition within our locker room and it’s going to create even more accountability. I think it will allow us to distribute the ice time to where we are going to get the full potential out of everyone.
“Sometimes if you need to play defencemen 30 minutes a game, you can’t be full intensity for 30 minutes a game. I don’t believe that it’s humanly possible. I think that you need to pace yourself in certain parts of the game. With the addition of Dougie, we had a good blue line, but I think it got more solid.”
The Flames traded their first round pick (No. 15), alongside picks No. 45 and 53 in the 2015 NHL Draft, to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Hamilton.
Hamilton, the ninth pick in the 2011 NHL Draft by the Bruins, established new career highs and led all Boston defencemen with 10 goals, 32 assists and 42 points this season. He joins TJ Brodie, Dennis Wideman, Kris Russell, and captain Mark Giordano on the blue line.
Giordano finished sixth in Norris voting, including one first-place vote, six second-place votes and 11 third place votes, after setting 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 has been unbelievable work from management and scouts because if you look at when I got here in the work stoppage year, Gio was there, Wides was there, and Brods was there,” Hartley said. “Those were our three guys, but now we mention six or seven defencemen. We restocked our blue line in a very good way. We have size, we have speed, we have skills, we have toughness, and that’s a good way. You win in this league with solid defence. That’s what we’re building and it’s lots of fun.”
Flames general manager Brad Treliving agreed.
“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,” Treliving 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.”
While Hamilton came at the expense of Calgary’s first three picks in the draft, at 22 years old he fits what the Flames are trying to do, Hartley suggested.
“I think that number one, we keep respecting our philosophy where we didn’t jeopardize our future,” Hartley said. “We got a 6-foot-5 defencemen with a right shot that just turned 22 that has already proved that he can be a real good defencemen at the NHL level. As much as we always say that it’s a process to get better, that everyday we want to get better, we sped up that process quite a bit. We added a lot of depth to our blue line. The way that Dougie plays, I think it’s a natural fit for us and him. He’s a d-man who likes to jump in the play, moves the puck super well, has great vision, and defends well. That’s what we were looking for. We are getting a king-sized defenceman.
“He was thrilled and it was a good day for Dougie Hamilton and a good day for the Calgary Flames.”