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DALLAS - The Carolina Hurricanes draft table was bustling with activity at American Airlines Center in Dallas on Saturday.
Picks were being made, but there was something more in the works, a trade that was finalized face-to-face with teams sitting beside one another on the draft floor.
In the move, the Hurricanes acquired defenseman Dougie Hamilton, forward Micheal Ferland and defensive prospect Adam Fox in exchange for restricted free agents Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm.
In Hamilton, the Canes add to their lineup a 25-year-old, right-shooting defenseman who rank tied for first among NHL defensemen with 17 goals in the 2017-18 season. Selected ninth overall by the Boston Bruins in 2011, Hamilton has totaled 220 points (64g, 156a) in 423 games over six seasons with Boston and Calgary.
"He's one of the premier offensive players as a defenseman in the league," President and General Manager Don Waddell said. "That's a huge addition for us on our blue line."
"I've had a couple calls from the coach, owner and GM. It's nice to hear from them and hear what their thoughts are. Playing against Carolina was never an easy game. They're so skilled and work hard. ... It was always tough to play against them. I think they're a team on the rise," Hamilton said. "I'm excited to be a part of a young group … and help Carolina become a playoff team. It's going to be fun. I'm looking forward to it."
Ferland, a 26-year-old winger, is coming off a career campaign in 2017-18 in which he posted career highs in goals (21), assists (20) and points (41) in 77 games with the Flames. He also adds a physical element that the Hurricanes have been eager to insert into their lineup.
"We have a lot of skilled pieces up front, and we needed a little size and muscle," Waddell said. "We wanted to address size."
"As a person, first and foremost, he's a really good guy. He's really nice. He's a good guy to be around," Hamilton said of his teammate. "He's a big body, and he's got a really good shot. He's smart and really skilled, especially for his size. Everyone who has played against him or with him knows how hard he can hit and how physical and tough he is. I'm excited to have him on our team again."
Video: Carolina-Calgary Trade Breakdown
Fox is a highly-touted defensive prospect who completed his sophomore season at Harvard in 2017-18. He was named First Team All-American for the second consecutive year, and as a freshman, he paced all NCAA defensemen in scoring with 40 points (6g, 34a). Originally drafted by the Flames in the third round (66th overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft, Fox is planning to return to Harvard for his junior season, but he will attend Hurricanes Prospects Development Camp in the next week.
"We're really high on Adam Fox. He's a premier offensive defenseman at Harvard," Waddell said. "We think his upside is tremendous. That's a key piece as we move forward."
"I don't think he's too far out from being able to contribute. He's the kind of defenseman that every team is looking for in today's game. He's a puck-mover. He's a power-play guy. He's very smart and skilled," said Tony MacDonald, the Canes Director of Amateur Scouting. "Lots of offensive dimensions, but he can defend also."
That's three valuable pieces the Hurricanes were able to add in one move, but of course it didn't come without a cost. The Canes parted ways with two restricted free agents in Hanifin and Lindholm, both of whom still perhaps have the potential to blossom into what the Canes hoped they'd be when they were each selected fifth overall two years apart.
"When you're going after good players and trying to make a trade, you have to give up things. Were these easy assets to give up? Absolutely not, because they're young players that could play with our franchise for a long time," Waddell said. "But if you're going to make a trade to try to make your team better, sometimes you have to give up players."
Video: Waddell on how Hurricanes' trade can change culture
Waddell said the initial trade talks sparked "three weeks ago or so," but in more general terms. It was in Dallas that the scope narrowed the final details were hammered out.
"We started talking about different players and different concepts. We had a lot of conversations, not particularly about the way it shook out but about the pieces," Waddell said. "We talked again late last night, and then today at the draft we started talking more, really narrowing down and focusing on the pieces that were in place."
Those weren't the only discussions being had, either. Waddell and the Hurricanes approached this weekend with an open mind, willing to explore whatever options were floated their way.
"We'll stay busy. We came into this weekend with a lot of different things on the table, but you always need a trade partner," Waddell said. "We are comfortable where we are, but we all know there are certain areas we still need to address."
One of those areas is goaltending. Scott Darling underperformed in year one of a four-year pact, and Cam Ward is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in a week.
"We have to address it for sure," Waddell said on Friday night. "Whether it happens this weekend or over the next 10 days, we're definitely looking at every opportunity out there to see what makes the most sense."
Another name that has surfaced in plenty of rumors is Jeff Skinner, who has one year remaining on his contract.
"Lots of talk," Waddell said. "Nothing happening."
In addition to leaving Dallas having made six draft picks, who could potentially make an impact in the long term, the Hurricanes made a move - the biggest of any this weekend - that immediately betters the team.
"We wanted to acquire the best players we could," Waddell said. "The message is we want to be better, we want to compete and we want to win."